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Grades Of Mutton Carcasses

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Yearling Mutton Carcasses

Yearling mutton carcasses are from animals of the ovine species that have passed the lamb age and lost, to an appreciable extent, the characteristics which are peculiar to lamb, but have not reached that stage of maturity at time of slaughter when they could be properly classed as mutton. The age limits for this group are approximately from 14 to 24 months. The grades of yearling mutton car-casses are Prime or No. A 1, Choice or No. 1, Good or No. 2, Medium or No. 3, Common or No. 4, and Cull or No. 5.

Prime or No. A 1—Prime or No. A 1 grade yearling mutton carcasses closely approach the ideal in conformation finish and quality. In many respects they resemble Prime grade lamb car-casses, differing principally in having somewhat longer bodies in proportion to width and depth, harder and whiter bones, slightly coarser flesh, and greater quantities of exterior and interior fats. They are compact and blocky, have relatively short, plump, well fleshed legs, broad backs, thick, well-fleshed loins, ribs and chucks, thick breasts and flanks. All fats are firm white or slightly creamy, of excellent quality, and are slightly brittle.

The outer covering of fat is smooth, evenly distributed, of moderate depth, and free from bunchiness. The fat covering is interspersed with strips of medium pink lean flesh over the sides and a more even distribution over the flanks and breasts. Interior fats are plentiful but not wasty. The kidneys are well covered to a fairly uniform depth and the interior walls of the ribs have a thin covering. The lean flesh is firm in all parts, relatively fine grained and medium pink in color. The hones are moderately small and whiter than in Prime grade lamb carcasses. Yearly mutton carcasses which qualify for this grade are exceedingly scarce.

Choice or No. 1—Choice or No. 1 grade yearling mutton car-casses have excellent conformation, finish and quality. They have relatively short and plump legs, thick loins and ribs, full-fleshed shoulders, thick breasts and a length of body commensurate with depth and breadth of carcass. Choice grade carcasses have good breadth in proportion to length, but are relatively heavier in the forequarters than lamb carcasses of the same grade. They resemble Choice grade lamb carcasses in many respects, but have proportionately longer bodies, legs and necks, larger abdominal cavities, and more distended ribs. Compared with lamb, the bones are harder and whiter. Where the foot is removed from the foreleg the end of the bone shows a rough, dry and comparatively hard surface.

The outer covering of fat is smooth and well distributed over loin, ribs and shoulders. The fat covering is interspersed with thin strips of dark pink flesh under the fell extending over the sides and a more even distribution over the lower limits of the breasts and flanks. Interior fats are plentiful in the crotch and the kidneys are well and evenly covered. All fats are of good quality, white or creamy and inclined to be brittle. The flesh is moderately fine grained, firm and medium to dark pink in color.

Good or No. 2—Good or No. 2 grade mutton carcasses have good conformation, finish and quality. Such carcasses, although reasonably plump, may be slightly deficient in breadth across the hips, back and shoulders. Yearling mutton carcasses of this grade resemble Good grade lamb carcasses in many respects, but have proportionately longer bodies and legs, larger abdominal cavities, more distended ribs and harder bones. The break joints of the forelegs are rough and dry and show little redness.

The outer covering of fat may be fairly even over the back, loin and rumps or it may be slightly rough. Interior fats are plentiful in the crotch and the kidneys are usually well covered. The flesh is firm, moderately fine grained, and has a deep pink to light red color. The greatest difference between Good and Choice grade yearling mutton carcasses is in conformation and finish.

Medium or No. 3—Medium or No. 3 grade yearling mutton carcasses have fair conformation, finish and quality. To some ex-tent they lack the fullness or plumpness in legs, loins and ribs found in good carcasses. Shoulders are usually thinly fleshed and inclined to be rough, necks are long, and legs long and tapering. There is usually a thin covering of fat over the shoulders, a moderate quantity on the loins, ribs and breasts, and practically none elsewhere. Except for small quantities around the kidneys and in the crotch, interior fats are scant. Although the flesh is moderately fine grained, it usually has a relatively high percentage of moisture and varies in color from deep pink to light red.

Common or No. 4—Common or No. 4 grade yearling mutton carcasses are the lowest grade which are offered regularly for sale by the retail trade. The principal features which distinguish this grade are the marked lack of quality and finish and the high percentage of bone to flesh. Such carcasses also have poor conformation. The contour of the backbone is plainly visible from neck to tail. Except for small and uneven patches on the shoulders and back, there are usually no other exterior fats. Interior fats are generally lacking, but there may be slight traces in the region of the kidneys and in the crotch. The flesh is very moist, soft, flabby and dark red in color.

Cull or No. 5—Cull or No. 5 grade yearling mutton carcasses are seldom found in retail markets. The grade is all that the term "cull" implies. Such carcasses are usually from emaciated animals. All bones are prominent to a marked degree, and both exterior and interior fats are almost totally lacking. The flesh is dark, coarse, soft and watery. Aside from a limited demand from some foreign-born residents in the larger cities, none is sold at retail to the fresh meat trade. The bulk is boned at packing plants and used for canning.



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