Lamb carcasses are graded as Prime or No. A 1, Choice or No. 1, Good or No. 2, Medium or No. 3, Common or No. 4, and Cull or No. 5.
Prime or No. A 1Prime or No. A 1 Grade lamb carcasses are practically ideal in conformation, finish, and quality The general outlines of carcasses of this grade are especially attractive, being symmetrical to a marked degree, owing to an abundance of highest degree, palatable flesh, particularly in the regions of the most desired cuts. They are very compact and blocky, have short, thick, plump legs, broad backs, thick, well-fleshed loins, ribs, and chucks, well-proportioned breasts, and full thick flanks. All fats are firm and of excellent quality, but they are not brittle.
Both exterior and interior fats are white or slightly creamy in color and may be tinged with pink. The outer covering of fat is smooth, of moderate depth, evenly distributed over the back and sides, and is free from all bunchiness or excessive deposits. The fat covering is interspersed with strips of pink flesh over the sides and a more even distribution over the lower limits of the breasts and flanks. Interior fats are plentiful but not excessive of wasty, the kidneys being covered to a uniform depth. The lean flesh is firm in all parts, fine grained, and the cut surfaces feel smooth and velvety to the touch. Its color is light pink. The bones are relatively small, soft, and tinged with blood. The break joints of the forelegs show four well-defined, relatively soft, spongy red ridges. The percentage of carcasses and cuts which grade Prime or No. A 1 is relatively small. Carcasses and cuts of this grade are usually found on the markets after fat stock shows, but rarely at other times.
Choice or No. 1Choice or No. 1 grade Iamb carcasses have excellent conformation, finish, and quality, but are usually slightly deficient in one or more respects as compared with Prime grade carcasses. Choice grade carcasses are relatively short and compact, have short plump legs, broad thick backs, thick full loins, ribs, and chucks, short, plump necks, and well-proportioned flanks and breasts. The general outlines resemble closely those of Prime grade carcasses.
All fats are of good quality, white or slightly creamy. The outer covering of fat is smooth and usually well distributed, but may be deficient in this respect as compared to that on Prime grade carcasses. Loins and ribs are well covered with fat which recedes to a moderately thin covering over hind legs and shoulders. The fat covering is interspersed with thin strips of pink flesh over the sides and a more even distribution over the lower limits of the breast and flanks. Interior fats are plentiful in the crotch and over the kidneys but not excessive. The flesh is fine grained, firm, and has a light pink color. Bones are relatively small, soft, and tinged with blood. The break joint of the forelegs shows four smooth, moist, well-defined red ridges.
Good or No. 2Good or No. 2 grade lamb carcasses have good conformation, finish, and quality, but are deficient in one or more respects as compared to Choice grade carcasses. Carcasses of this grade are well proportioned and reasonably plump but may be slightly deficient in breadth or depth across the hips, backs, or shoulders. Legs, although short and moderately plump, are more tapering than in carcasses of the higher grades. Loins, ribs, and chucks are thick and full, and necks are short and reasonably plump. There may be slight indications of paunchiness or a slight tendency toward the rangy type which is indicated by long tapering shanks and somewhat longer body. Bones are soft and tinged with red, both points indicating a young animal. The break joints of the forelegs show four well-defined relatively soft red ridges.
The outer covering of fat is smooth and even over the back and hips, diminishing sharply toward the shanks and flanks. The fat covering is interspersed with thin strips of lean flesh under the fell, but these are not usually so pronounced as in Choice and Prime grade carcasses. Interior fats are plentiful but they are unevenly distributed, being in greatest quantity in the regions of kidneys and crotch. All fats are of good quality and white or slightly creamy in color. The flesh is moderately firm, fine grained, and light pink in color.
Medium or No. 2Medium or No. 2 grade lamb carcasses have fair conformation, finish, and quality. They are usually some-what angular or rangy in conformation, with moderately long thin necks and shanks and relatively narrow hips, backs, and shoulders.
They have moderately long tapering legs and they lack the plumpness of the better grades. Ribs and loins are lacking somewhat in depth of flesh. The break joints of forelegs show four well-defined soft ridges, but these lack redness to a marked degree.
Carcasses of this grade usually have a moderately thin outer covering of fat but it is not evenly distributed. There are also some carcasses in this grade that have excessive quantities of fat which disqualify them for a higher grade. Interior fats are relatively scarce, the kidneys being only partially covered. Small quantities are also found in the crotch. The thin strips of lean under the fell are not nearly so prominent as in the better grades. Heavier car-casses of this grade or those approaching the yearling mutton stage have proportionately greater quantities of fat than lighter carcasses. The flesh is usually inclined to be soft, spongy, and moderately fine grained, or may be firm in carcasses from heavier and older animals. Its color varies from light to dark pink.
Common or No. 4Common or No. 4 grade lamb carcasses are angular and have poor conformation, finish, and quality. All hones are prominent. Such carcasses are disproportionately long and narrow. The contour of the backbone is plainly visible from neck to tail. Sides are thin and flanks thin and flabby. There is little or no exterior or interior fat, slight traces being sometimes found around the kidneys and the crotch. The heavier and older carcasses frequently have small patches of fat in the regions of the kidneys. This fat usually has a bluish tinge. Bones are usually soft but they lack the redness of, those in better grade carcasses. The break joints of forelegs have knuckle ends removed and show four well-defined relatively soft ridges. Because of lack of finish the flesh is soft, spongy, and inclined to be watery. It appears coarse and fibrous. Its color may be dark pink or have a brownish tinge. Carcass weights vary widely and range from 15 to 40 lbs. but usually are between 25 and 35 lbs.
Cull or No. 5Cull or No. 5 grade lamb carcasses are not offered regularly for retail trade and are found in the markets only occasionally. Such carcasses are almost entirely devoid of visible fat and are of the most inferior conformation and quality. Proportion of bone to meat is very high. In fact, the term “emaciated” properly describes carcasses of Cull grade lamb. The flesh is dark, soft, coarse grained and owing to lack of nourishment or other causes, appears fibrous to a marked degree. Except to supply a limited demand from certain foreign-born residents in the larger cities, who prefer lean flesh without fat or finish, Cull grade lamb carcasses are seldom found on the markets. They are used principally for canning. Weights range usually from 15 to 25 lbs.