The Shetland Sheep produces very high quality meat with outstanding flavour and fine texture.
As with other primitive breeds Shetlands tend to store much of their body fat around the organs rather than solely in the muscle. This results in far leaner meat than modern breeds.
"Shetlands are a breed of sheep with a historic reputation of producing delicious mutton"
Country View 2004
The meat falls into three classes:
- Lamb - Lamb is from sheep of under one year of age. A whole lamb will kill out at around 12-17 kg depending on its diet. Shetland lamb is ideal for fast preparation. With its delicate flavour it doesn't need elaborate preparation or sauces.
- Hogget - Hoggs or Hoggets are aged between 1 and 2 years and kill out at 16-20kgs in April/May. The meat may be cooked as lamb and is even more flavoursome.
- Mutton - Mutton is from an animal over 2 years old - the real gourmet mutton is from a 4 or 5 year old sheep. Shetland mutton is absolutely delicious cooked slowly and perhaps marinaded.
The Shetland's high meat-to-bone ratio means that carcasses can achieve a killing out percentage of more than 50%.