August 15, 2003
Step Back In Time -- Lamb Trade in the Middle West
?What are lamb chops worth?? I asked the butcher in a typical cornbelt town of 5,000 people.
?We don?t handle lamb at all,? he replied.
?Why not? Is this talk about the muttony taste true??
?No, it isn?t that, I would just as soon have the meat as chicken. The people around here used to buy the meat. I remember when my father used to run this shop he would sell thirty lambs a week. But times have changed. The old generation is gone and the new one does not know lamb. If I mention lamb to my customers now, they throw up their hands and won?t listen to me. Some of them actually become insulted.?
Meanwhile, a customer had come in and overhearing the conversation remarked: ?You can?t buy mutton anywhere around here. Last summer the doctor recommended its use during the convalescence of my father, but he had to do without it. None of the shops handled the meat.?
At another shop in the same town the butcher said he handled the meat, but had little call for it. ?I bought a lamb two weeks ago and still have a part of it in the cooler. The meat just don?t move.?
In this case carrying the meat probably did the trade more harm than good. If the meat must hang around the shop until it has lost its freshness and attractiveness, selling the roasts or chops will hardly win new customers. The chances are the old ones will become disgusted.
In another town a butcher was handling only saddle of lamb, the most expensive cut, made up of the legs and loin.
?Have you ever tried the boned and rolled shoulders that are being introduced at special prices? They make a sweeter roast than the leg and they are cheaper, too. The packers are offering them on some of their car routes. It is a good way to move the shoulders when there is little demand for stew meat.?
?No, and I don?t intend to,? he informed me. ?The stuff is all too high in price. People simply won?t pay 40 to 45 cents a pound for lamb when they can buy pork or beef for less money.?
?They shouldn?t have to pay that much now, should they? It was never above 33 cents a pound wholesale when lambs were at their highest and since they are down 4 cents a pound.?
?I will just show you what that saddle cost me. Here?s the bill now.?
From it I noted that he was netting 15 to 20 cents a pound from his lamb, which was clearly too much to take from a trade in unhealthy condition and in need of encouragement. Pork loins were billed to this butcher at 5 cents a pound more than saddle of lamb, yet according to his own statement, he was selling the lamb higher than the other meats.
In pleasing contrast to these two experiences were two I later had in Chicago. At Pollack Bros, market at the entrance to the Chicago Union Stockyards in Young, was a man who had cut lamb all his life. He started out in New England, where lamb is appreciated, and learned the trade. He has some ideas all his own about selling the meat.
?Lamb is a frail meat and can be ruined by too common use of the cleaver. If you spoil its appearance you spoil the sale of the meat,? he said.
?The boned and rolled shoulder may be all right,? he continued, ?but I have a way of fixing up a shoulder roast that takes less time. Carving is made practically as easy and the bones are left in to impart a better flavor. I raise the shoulder blade as you do, but instead of removing the vertebrae I merely crack it at the joints with the cleaver.?
He has another way of preparing English loin chops. He removes the backbone, then places lamb kidneys in the orifice, sewing them in place. Each chop then has a slice of kidney instead of the bothersome vertebra.
The other was at John Jamieson?s market, 6940 Stony Island Ave. Instead of offering the chuck as stew meat, Mr. Jamieson bones it out, grinds it, moulds it and puts it in the ice box overnight, cuts it into lamb patties the next morning and offers these for sale. He does this twice a week and has built up such a demand for the product he cannot fill it.
There is another use of cold lamb and mutton that has apparently been neglected ? as sandwich meat. ?Jack? Hill, the manager of the Stockyard Inn, says there are no better sandwiches made than lamb or mutton, especially when a slice of pickle is included. The delicatessen stores handle roast pork, beef and ham, why not roast lamb?
HAMPSHIRES FOR SALT LAKE
Mr. D. F. Detweiler, Filer, Idaho, is sending to the Salt Lake Ram Sale ten Hampshire yearling stud rams. It will be recalled that two years ago Mr. Detweiler bought at the Salt Lake sale a Hampshire stud ram for $1,600. This was the highest price ever paid for a Hampshire in this country. It is interesting to note that the ten rams being sent to this year?s sale by Mr. Detweiler are all sired by this $1,600 ram.
Yours of the 12th regarding the publicity campaign to encourage the use of lamb was duly received and we enclose cashier?s check for $100 towards same.
We are doing all we possibly can here in the way of boosting the consumption of lamb and so far as the writer is personally concerned, both he and his family consume ten pounds of lamb for every pound of beef.
W. R. SMITH & SON, Chicago
FINE FOR NEW MEXICO
Range conditions throughout New Mexico at the present time are excellent and since July and August are as a rule our rainy season, we anticipate the best winter range we have had in many years. Due to the drouth of the past three years and the heavy losses of last winter New Mexico, as a whole, is very short of live stock and there is consequently quite a demand locally for the lamb crop. As there is a shortage of breeding ewes, ewe lambs are at a premium and but few of them, in my opinion, will go out of the state this fall. However, money is also at a premium in the Southwest and sufficiently attractive prices might change the situation. Some wool is moving out at from 40 to 58 cents.
PRAGER MILLER, New Mexico
GOOD RAMS PAY
A young lady the other day had been reading of the payment at the Salt Lake Sale of $6,000 for a Rambouillet ram. ?Wasn?t that an awful price to pay for a gentleman sheep?? And I had to explain at length why it was not an ?awful price.?
The average range grower has not been giving sufficient consideration to the ?gentlemen sheep? in his outfit. The ram is three-quarters of the blood of his offspring. A first-class ewe and a scrub ram gives a scrub lamb; but a very medium ewe and a thoroughbred ram will produce a lamb showing very high type characteristics.
Within the past few years the more progressive growers have been buying the best bred rams obtainable for use with their range flocks; that is, obtainable at a price commensurate with range usage. The breeders of such rams have had a selection at the Salt Lake Ram Sale not otherwise obtainable. Prices of $50 to $100 for rams for use in range flocks are not unreasonable for well-bred animals, and $250 to $500 is not an unreasonable price to pay for the sires of those rams. And any price is cheap for a ram of outstanding merit to head a flock which breeds $500 rams.
It would be awful for the average range user to pay a price of $6,000 for a ram for his purposes, but when a distinctive individual in any breed, with all the characteristics of that breed, is in the ring the purchaser is a lucky individual no matter what he may pay, provided his purchase gives him service.
The educational value of a ram sale, such as has been held in Salt Lake for the past three years, is invaluable to the wool grower. The sight of a collection of rams, such as is offered at those sales, is not duplicated except in few localities in Australia and Britain, and I question if in Rambouillet or Hampshire rams can be equaled anywhere.
Is it better to use one good ram for a 100 ewes, or two mediocre rams for the same number of ewes? We have been making a practice of using the same rams twice, once for September, and again for November breeding. We have averaged a hundred ewes to the ram, but we have taken exceptionally good care of our rams during the breeding season. Many growers are not situated so that they can use their rams to such advantage, but provision can be made to give the rams some extra feed during the breeding season. It is wonderful how quickly the rams will learn to come for a mouthful or two of oats on a cold, frosty morning. A little extra care will be well repaid in the percentage of lambs.
?Buy good rams and take good care of them,? should be the motto of every wool grower.
President, Idaho Wool Growers
ASKING BETTER RATES
Because of the drouth and lack of sufficient feed it was evident that additional stock cars would be needed to handle Western sheep and that lower rates on grain and hay into Western states were imperative. In order that these matters might be attended to early, the National Wool Growers Association was among the first to appeal to the Railroad Administration for half rates on grain and a larger supply of double-deck cars.
On July 21 Mr. Hagenbarth went East and explained to the Regional Director of the Railroads the bad situation in the West and asked that prompt relief be granted so that Western stockmen might know in advance just what the conditions would be at shipping time.
ORCHARDISTS USING SHEEP PROFITABLY
In the past few weeks several bunches of breeding ewes and feeding lambs have gone into the orchard section of south Missouri in the Springfield and Hollister districts. Men who have bought the sheep report that orchards have been sown with clover, first, to prevent washing of the soil, second for fertilizing and third, to yield them a profit for sheep. They have found from recent experiments that sheep yield an excellent profit in connection with fruit growing. Most of their purchases on the Kansas City market have been an older class of ewes and light-weight Southwest lambs.
Attacks by bears and threats of forest fires in the upper Yakima Valley annoyed sheepmen this year. Bears, which always have to be contended with until huckleberries are ripe, were more numerous and savage this year than usual. One herder lost thirteen ewes from his flock in one night, and there were other reports of smaller loses. Forest fires started in the Upper Nache country, on the eastern slope of the Cascades, but were extinguished before any sheep ranges were reached.
A NEW SILAGE
Two sheepmen have written us asking if the common wild sunflower, sometimes called Blackeyed Susan, that grows along road sides, would make good silage. We have had no personal experience, in this matter and cannot find anyone who has. It seems to us, however, that these wild sunflowers should make as good silage as tame sunflowers. In fact, it should be better, as the wild flower is small and carries a higher per cent of leaves.
NO WET WOOL
A wool buyer who has operated in the West for the past two decades recently said: ?You can tell how dry the season has been when you understand that this is the first time in twenty years that I did not receive a single sack of wet wool.?