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I purchased my first two lambs last spring. I've had no problems with them. They've been incredibly easy to raise.
I plan to take them to the slaughterhouse in about 3 weeks.
I'd like to receive any tips and sugestions on what I should do before, during and after slaughter.
-- walt (email@example.com), October 21, 1999
First, the day before they go to slaughter, get them penned up someplace quiet. Let them have all the water they want, but no feed, or perhaps only a little hay. I know most people say not to feed anything before butchering -- it's so the stomach will be empty and makes butchering easier. But we've butchered wildlife (caribou, mostly) that obviously had been eating right up to the time they were shot, and you just have to be careful not to cut the stomach or the gut. (Makes a mess and contaminates the meat.) I think that giving the animal no food at all stresses it and one thing you want to avoid, if you can, is stressing the meat you are going to be eating in a few days. That's why you want to pen them up ahead of time, so they can calm down, and you won't have to chase them all over just before butchering. During butchering, if you are taking them to a butcher (expensive, and not really necessary, by the way -- butchering isn't much fun, but anyone can do it) there isn't much you will be able to do. Do, however make sure they tag your meat so you can be sure that the meat you end up with is really what you brought in. If you've gone to all the trouble of raising it right, you don't want to end up with meat raised by somebody else, who knows how. And afterwards, I'm assuming they are going to cut and wrap it for you? Or are you going to do that yourselves? (If so, you're paying somebody to do the easiest part, and keeping the hardest part for yourselves!) Just make sure that your freezer is going to stay working. Twice we've lost a bunch of meat because the freezer stopped working -- electrical problems in an old house -- and the freezer was in the cellar, where no-one went if they didn't have to. I would go down maybe once a week and get enough out of the big freezer to stock the little one in the frig for a few days. So we didn't know when it quit until we started to smell it -- what a mess! You can get freezer alarms, and I would say that they are definitely worth the price.
-- Kathleen Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 12, 2000.