Mature mutton is graded on the basis of conformation, finish and quality. The grades are Prime of No. A 1, Choice or No. 1, Good or No. 2, Medium or No. 3, Common or No. 4, Cull or No. 5.
Prime or No. A 1Prime or No. A 1 grade mature mutton carcasses are ideal in conformation, finish and quality. They resemble Prime grade yearling mutton carcasses in many respects, but have harder, whiter bones, darker flesh and more brittle fats. They are relatively short, compact and block, with a high percentage of meat to bone, and carry a high percentage of the total carcass weight in the legs, loins and racks. Legs are relatively short, thick and plump, loins and ribs are deeply fleshed, shoulders are full and compact, breasts are thick, necks relatively short and plump, and flanks full. Bones are somewhat white and hard, but most carcasses of this grade are from relatively young sheep. The feet are severed from the legs at the ankle joint, leaving two smooth, hard, white ridges. The outer covering of fat is fairly deep, smooth, and evenly distributed, but not excessive at any point. Interior fats are plentiful in the crotch, over the kidneys, and on the inside of the chest cavtiy, but are not excessive or wasty. All fats are of excellent quality, are creamy white, tending to a yellowish tinge, and are brittle.
The strips of lean under the fell on the sides and breasts are prominent, and light red in color. The flesh is firm, fine grained and of light red color.
Choice or No. 1Choice or No. 1 grade mature mutton car-casses resemble Choice grade yearling mutton carcasses rather closely in some respects, but have harder bones, darker flesh and more brittle fat. Choice grade carcasses have excellent conformation, finish and quality. They have relatively short, stocky legs, thick loin and ribs, full fleshy shoulders, and thick breasts. Carcasses of this grade have good breadth in proportion to length and are not rangy or angular. Bones are relatively hard and white. The feet are severed from the legs at the ankle joints. The joints of the fore legs show two smooth, hard, white ridges.
The outer covering of fat is smooth and evenly distributed, having greatest depth over the rumps, loins and back, but is not excessive at any point. Interior fats are plentiful in the crotch, around the kidneys, and on the interior walls but are not wasty. All fats are of excellent quality, creamy colored, inclining to a yellowish tinge, and brittle to a marked degree.
The strips of lean under the fell on the sides and breasts are prominent and are light red in color. The flesh is firm, moderately fine grained, and has a light red color. Bunchy or excessive quantities of exterior or interior fat bar a carcass from this grade.
Good or No. 2Good or No. 2 grade mature mutton carcasses have good conformation, finish and quality. Good grade carcasses, although well proportioned and moderately plump, may be slightly deficient in breadth or depth across the hips, back and shoulders as compared to Choice carcasses. Legs are relatively short and thickly fleshed. Good grade carcasses generally have wider barrels and more distended ribs than Choice carcasses. The grade admits a higher percentage of ewes and the bones may be slightly harder and more flinty.
The outer covering of fat, although fairly even, varies to some extent and may be slightly excessive on the rumps or deficient on the shoulders, breasts and flanks. Interior fats are plentiful but may be slightly deficient or excessive as compared to Choice grade carcasses although not to a marked degree. The strips of lean under the fell on the sides are less prominent than on Choice grade car-casses but these are well defined. The flesh is firm, slightly coarse grained and light to medium red in color.
Medium or No. 3Medium or No. 3 grade mature mutton carcasses have fair conformation, finish and quality. Carcasses of this grade lack the fullness or plumpness in legs, loins and ribs found in carcasses of the better grades. Shoulders are only moderately well fleshed. Carcasses of this grade are relatively narrow through the hips and across the back, and the bones of the spinal column are prominent. Because of these deficiencies such carcasses appear some-what long and angular. The abdominal cavity is relatively wide and the curvature of the ribs is very naked, especially in ewe mutton carcasses.
The thin strips of lean flesh under the fell which are so prominent on well-finished carcasses are only slightly in evidence on Medium grade carcasses. There is usually a thin covering of fat over the back, loins and rumps, but practically none on the legs. The flanks are inclined to be thin. There are moderate quantities of interior fats around the kidneys but not sufficient quantities to cover them and there are only traces elsewhere. The flesh is moderately firm, but somewhat coarse grained and medium to dark red in color.
Common or No. 4Common or No. 4 grade mature mutton carcasses are the lowest grade offered regularly for retail trade purposes. They are angular in conformation, thinly fleshed and lacking in finish. Such carcasses are narrow across the hips, loins, backs and shoulders. The contour of the backbone is plainly visible from end to end and other bones are prominent. The grade consists principally of carcasses from old, thin-fleshed ewes. The bones are, therefore, usually hard, white and flinty. Small and uneven patches of exterior fat are occasionally found on loins, backs or shoulders. There are usually traces of fat around the kidneys, but practically no other interior fats. That which is found is of poor quality. The flesh is coarse grained, inclined to be soft and flabby, and dark red in color.
Cull or No. 5Cull or No. 5 grade mature mutton carcasses are all that the term “cull” implies. They are mostly from old, wornout emaciated ewes, and are not found on all dressed meat markets. All bones are prominent and the proportion of bone to flesh is exceedingly high. Carcasses are entirely devoid of visible fat and the flesh is very unattractive. It is soft, flabby, watery and very dark in color. Such carcasses are boned and the flesh is used for canning.