Cutting and Processing Meats


Lamb refers to young male and female sheep. They are slaughtered at approximately six months of age. The lamb carcass dressed weight is usually between 25 and 27 kg (50 and 60 lb). Because it is young, lamb is very tender, promoting dry heat cooking for most of the animal. Due to the high price per pound and small carcass size, lamb is most often marketed with the bone in. Sheep over the age of 12 months is referred to as mutton. Mutton has a much stronger flavour and is less tender than lamb.

Figure 26 Lamb carcass.

The lamb carcass (Figure 26) is broken into four primals: front, leg, loin, and flank. The lamb front is then broken into four sub-primals: the lab shoulder, neck, fore shank, and breast. The lamb leg can be left whole or split into leg shank and butt portion. The loin consists of two parts: the rib and loin. Locations of primal and cub-primal cuts of lamb are shown in Figure 27 and Table 35.

Figure 27. Lamb primal and sub-primal cuts.
Table 35 – Primal and sub-primal cuts of lamb.
Primal Sub-primals
Leg Shank (A),Leg, shank portion (B), Leg, butt portion (C and D), Sirloin (E)
Loin Rib (rack) (G), Loin (F)
Flank No further breakdown (H)
Front Shoulder (J), Breast (L), Neck (I), Shank (M)

The primals and sub-primals are further broken down into retail and restaurant cuts as shown in Table 36.

Table 36: Retail and restaurant cuts of lamb.
Primal Retail Meat Sales Cuts Restaurant Cuts Alternate Names
Lamb leg Lamb leg shank portion Leg of lamb
Lamb leg butt portion
Lamb leg sirloin chops Lamb sirloin (boneless)
Lamb shank
Lamb loin Lamb loin chops Lamb T-bone
Lamb rib chops Lamb chops Lamb popsicles
Lamb rack Rack of lamb Both lamb racks can be used to produce a crown roast
Lamb flank Lamb flank rolled (boneless)
Lamb shoulder Lamb shoulder arm chops
Lamb shoulder blade chops
Lamb neck chops
Lamb shoulder roast Lamb shoulder Oyster shoulder
Lamb shank

Figure 28 displays retail lamb cuts. To download this poster:

Figure 28 Lamb cuts.

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Meat Cutting and Processing for Food Service Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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