All lambs are grain finished—by balancing our feed rations accordingly and by feeding grains through the final stages of production we achieve the following:
Faster weight gain for earlier maturing lamb.
Younger animals have milder meat flavour and more tender meat composition. Youthfulness is paramount to lamb texture and taste. Lambs are age verified through record keeping. Lambs born on farm are entered by date into lambing books or computer software. We do not send aged lambs through this stream. Trillium lamb must be under a year of age. The reality is that most lamb will be shipped between 5 and 8 months of age.
Lambs tend to lay down fat on the outside, in distinction to beef which tends to marble throughout. By grain finishing, we are taking lambs with the appropriate frame and muscling and adding the final layer of finish . While leanness is demanded by today's consumer, flavour and tenderness are determined in large part by effective finishing. Meat flavour and juiciness is a direct result of proper finishing.
Dietary Energy Level
Higher dietary energy levels fed to lambs has a positive effect on taste. Research studies have concluded that lambs on concentrates produce more acceptable flavours than lambs grazed on pasture alone.
The chemical composition of meat literally changes depending on what it is fed. Numerous studies suggest that lamb finished on grain is chemically different than lamb raised on pasture. Research indicates that the volatile compounds that negatively affect taste are found in higher concentrations of grass fed lamb. We know that imported lamb tends to taste gamey compared to Ontario grain finished lamb.
We achieve proper finishing through multiple weighings and, more importantly, by putting our hands on every lamb to give them a body condition score. Weight alone is not a measure of quality. We only select lamb from our farm that meets our live lamb requirements for quality.
Every Trillium Lamb producer employs safe, efficient handling facilities so that lambs can be processed with minimal stress. Stress affects meat quality. Dark cutters come from lambs that were exposed to handling stress or not provided with access to clean continuous water. Producers that want to be part of Trillium Lamb must show that they have proper handling facilities so that we know the meat on the inside matches the observed quality on the outside. Producers must endeavour to provide the lambs a stress free environment from birth to delivery to the plant.
A complete animal heath program is essential in the production of this quality product. All Trillium producers must demonstrate an active relationship with a veterinarian. Utilizing that relationship Trillium producers develop a systematic approach in dealing with animal health using measures such as bio-security, balanced nutrition, vaccination programs and a clean, safe environment. However just like human beings, sometimes lambs need to receive medication if they are compromised. Medications are only one tool in the toolbox, they are used judiciously in consultation with the farm veterinarian. As farmers we need to balance the needs of the animal with the demands of the consumer. Trillium lamb producers put thought and care into administering medication. We producers don't view animal health in terms of a promotional advantage. We see this as a fundamental ethical requirement to our customers.
Every Trillium Producer follows the National Farm Animal Care Code of Practice— a document developed utilizing scientific rigour and industry collaboration in partnership between producers, scientists, industry stakeholders, government and animal welfare groups. This document provides strict guidelines on the care and handling of animals through all stages of production and shipping. All producers and their employees function under these guidelines. A copy of the guidelines is available at all times for reference on farm.