Classification of sheepmeat and goatmeat

Lamb meat comes from less than a year of domestic ewe lamb and goat kid but its characteristics and treatment are similar although the production in Spain of the first is much higher than that of the second. Therefore, the development that we do here is for the first being extensible to the second. The lamb meat is thin and very tender. Fat, almost white in color (more yellowish and dark the older the beef) should not be excessive. As for the meat, although it varies according to race and age, it moves in different tones. The good quality of the lamb meat is recognized by its full meatiness as well as the coverage of uniform and very fine fat that should not exceed 3mm.
Lamb meat is one of the most high-fat meat in the market, with a much higher proportion in the chop than in the leg, where the fat melts during cooking and passes into the sauce or cooking juice, which is Can degrease. Nutritionally, this meat is one of the richest foods in iron, as is the beef. The older animals usually have a redder meat and more iron rich but also a stronger flavor which makes in Spain its consumption is unusual.
Spain is a large producer of sheep, both for national supply and for export, with the most productive regions being Castille La Mancha, Castille León, Aragon, Extremadura and Andalusia. Sheep meat is that which comes from the sheep (female), the ram (male) and the lamb (lamb), which can be female or male. The lamb is an animal less than one year old, and offers one of the most appreciated meats for its taste, tenderness and juiciness among other qualities.


Lamb meat, from animals between one month and one year old and weighing between 5.5 and 25 kg, is the main form in which these species are consumed. The meat of older sheep is traded under another name.
Depending on the age of the animal, its weight and the feed received, the following commercial names can be distinguished:

  • The lamb is the calf that is between four and six weeks old, its weight does not exceed 8 kilos and only has received breast milk as food. This provides a light-colored flesh, is pink, with soft fibers, very tender and delicate to the palate, has about 9% fat, and this one has a creamy texture. It is the most popular in Spain and consumed mainly in celebrations
  • The ternasco or recental lamb is the animal that has from a month and a half and less than four months. Its weight does not surpass the 13 kilos, that have been acquired through the feeding with breast milk and grass or feed. It has a little less fat than the suckling lamb, a little more reddish flesh, its fibers begin to be stronger. In channel weighs between 8 and 11 kilos. It is the case of the Aragonese ternasco
  • The paschal lamb is more than four months and less than a year, the meat acquires more color the older it reaches, also the taste and smell is becoming more accentuated. It has fat infiltrated, making a meat juicy and tender. In channel weighs more than 12 kilos.
  • After the year and we are in front of the sheep , its meat is very intense as far as flavor, age has also provided hardness, reason why is little demanded and little consumed in our country, generally this meat is exported, Although cecina is also made with it in the north of Spain.

SEUROP Rating and fattening: Since 2000, the classification of sheep carcasses by this system is mandatory when there is trade in carcasses between Community countries. For heavier channels, 13 or more kg, the classification is made according to the conformation and the state of grease:
-Conformation: there are six classes (S, E, U, R, O, P). The profiles of the hindquarters, back, shoulder and back are valued.
There are five classes (5, 4, 3, 2, 1), depending on the amount of external fat (subcutaneous), internal (pelvic-renal) and thoracic region (fatty deposits in muscles and sternum.

Goat Cattle Classification:

  • Kid are about a month old or less, only feeds on milk.
  • Goat, have more than 5 or 6 weeks of life and take grass or feed.


Among the races of sheep, in Aragon, the Aragonese breed, Ojinegra de Teruel and Roya Bilbilitana stand out, which serve as the basis for the production of ternasco, protected under a quality mark (PGI), since in this region lamb is known Usually by the local term ternasco, instead of the usual name of lamb.
The breed normally found in the plains of Castilla-La Mancha is the Manchego Robusta and in Castile and Leon, the sheep Churra, Castellano and Ojalado are the raison d’etre of the lechazo, a local term to designate the lamb. And in Navarre we can taste the delicious lamb meat as well as in Extremadura.
Here you will find more information on sheepmeat covered under PGI


  • Buy this meat in spring, as the sheep that feed the lambs feed on fresh pastures. In this way, the meat of the lambs is softer, tender and with less fat than at any other time of the year.
  • Buying whole pieces or halves is cheaper than buying it in parts.
  • Acquire better pieces (young specimens, lamb, milk and paschal) at a good price and freeze the meat to eat at another time.
  • It is necessary to know how to cook each one of them to choose some parts or others of the animal: the roasting leg, the steaks for frying, the skirt for stews and stews, etc.
About the author

Montse Gonzalez