Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE93-002.
The quality of lamb produced on pasture is not as high as what it produced in the barn. We have never told our lamb buyer that our summer lambs are grown on pasture because of the stigma this might place against our lambs. Every summer there are comments that the lambs don’t have as much fat cover, the meat is redder and they are dirtier than our winter lambs but they are still acceptable for the market. Because the lambs are hog-dressed the lambs must be free from burdocks and as clean as possible or the meat inspector will make the slaughterhouse skin the lambs and then they are considered unacceptable for market.
In summary, I would say that pasture raising of hothouse lambs is an acceptable alternative to barn raising if you watch for problems and remedy them quickly as we did with coccidia outbreak. The lambs must be kept fast growing and clean. The grazing ewes lost more weight than the barn fed group but they should be able to recover their lost weight by their next lambing period in February if kept on a high plane of nutrition. Pasture grazing of the ewes with lambs in the summer gives the shepard a break from the drudgery of individual feeding of ewes with lambs in jugs and nurseries that is necessary in confinement feeding situations. This makes an excellent way of producing a marketable product from land that could not be used for any other agricultural purpose than grazing.