The Economics of Buying Whole Lambs

A whole lamb carcass, ready for cuttingIf you’re unfamiliar with Tangle Ridge Ranch and their pastured lambs, here’s some information to digest:

Last week Tangle Ridge killed this year’s lambs, and Lisa and I were fortunate enough to get a whole, uncut carcass.  My primary motivation was securing lamb meat and offal for this January’s Burns supper.  Here’s some details on the purchase.

The Numbers

Compared to most other meats, lamb is expensive.  My side of pork this year was $2.15/lb for a 110 lb side.  This whole, uncut lamb was $5.85/lb for a 50 lb carcass.  The cut and wrapped lambs sell for $7.50/lb.

Yes, compared to pork this lamb is expensive.  But compared to supermarket lamb, Tangle Ridge is a steal.

I weighed every piece of meat that I got from my lamb to see what those final cuts would cost when purchased from retailers.  In the spreadsheet below, the weights are what I got from my animal.  The costs are for an identical cut, as sold at local retailers, mostly Sunterra Market in Lendrum, which carries a lot more lamb than most grocery stores.

There are a few cuts (flank, neck, and the “fatty trim” that I rendered out for cooking fat) that are not available in grocery stores.  These represent small portions of the carcass, and are estimated at very low prices, so are a correspondingly small source of error.

Buying whole lambs: cost breakdown
If I purchased all the cuts of lamb that are now in my freezer from a grocery store, it would have cost about $8.26/lb, instead of $5.85.

I can’t wait to tuck into this lamb.  I’ll be posting about some of the preparations over the next few months.