Age/dentition

Categories of sheepmeat are determined by a combination of sex and animal age. Dentition is used to identify the age of an animal.

  • Lamb – female or castrate/entire male with no permanent incisors (approximately 0-12months age)
  • Young lamb – female or male with no permanent molars in upper jaw (0-5 months)
  • Hogget or yearling mutton – castrate male with no secondary sexual characteristics and female with 1-2 permanent incisors (approximately 10-18 months age)
  • Mutton – female or castrate male with 1-8 permanent incisors (>10months old)
  • Ram – entire male with 1-8 permanent incisors (>10months old)

The eating quality of these different categories varies. Differences between lamb, hogget and mutton eating quality is usually due to the toughening of connective tissue, adverse flavours accumulating in fat as a result of age and the darkening of meat colour with age. MLA's Sheepmeat Eating Quality Guidelines provide more details on how age affects eating quality.