Shetland Meat

"Shetlands are a breed of sheep with an historic reputation of producing delicious mutton"
Country View 2004

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.

The meat falls into three classes:


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.


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 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%.

Cross Bred Lamb

 Shetland ewe with her Charolais Beltex cross triplets
Shetland ewe with her 4 month old Charollais/Beltex cross triplets

The Shetland is an excellent ewe to cross with a commercial ram from her second lambing onwards.  Due to her large pelvis, lambing ease, milkiness and strong maternal nature, given a little extra care and feed, she is well able to produce a strong commercial lamb.

The North Country Cheviot, Charollais, Blue faced Leicester, Lleyn and Poll Dorset are all successfully used to cross with a Shetland ewe to produce a heavier, faster maturing commercial lamb that is readily acceptable at markets.

These lambs can not only reach live weights of 40kg but benefit from healthy, hybrid vigour and the Shetland's hardiness; thriving in our increasingly frequent poor summers.

A terminal sire such as a Beltex or Texel can then be used on these bigger Shetland cross ewes.

Shetland rams are also used to produce excellent progeny from well grown commercial ewe lambs.


Photographs courtesy of Mattyy Simpson Photography