Marketing Lamb and Goat for Holidays

Throughout the year, lamb and goat is often the main course at holiday celebrations for many people. This creates an excellent opportunity for sheep and meat goat producers to plan their breeding seasons so that they can market their lambs or kids at the proper size for these holidays.
Lamb can be prepared in a variety of ways, not only for holidays, but throughout the year.

Lamb can be prepared in a variety of ways, not only for holidays, but throughout the year.

The United States currently has a population that varies greatly in their religious beliefs and in their ethnic backgrounds. According to data from the 2000 National Survey of Religious Identification and the 2000 American Religious Identity Survey, 76% identified themselves as Christian, 1.3% Jewish, and .5% Islamic. Data also showed that from 1990 to 2000, Islamic identification increased by 109%.

An important consideration when marketing lambs and goats for ethnic markets is the weight and sex of the animal and the method in which the meat is harvested such as Halal (Islamic) or Kosher (Jewish). Halal refers to foods that are considered permitted or lawful in the Muslim Qu’ran. These foods, and in this case animals, must be treated with respect and be well cared for. When the animal is harvested, the jugular vein is cut and the blood from the animal is allowed to drain. (Muslims are not allowed to consume blood or blood byproducts.) The animal is also blessed at the time of slaughter.

Lambs and kids designated for the ethnic market can be sold at auction or they can be sold directly to the consumer. Keep in mind that state laws prohibit a producer from selling meat unless the animal was processed in a USDA inspected facility. Therefore, the lambs and kids should be sold live or they should be delivered to a processing facility. One point to make is that holidays vary in when they will occur each year. Some holidays follow the Julian or solar calendar, which allows them to occur at the same time or at approximately the same time each year. The Julian calendar is followed by most of the western part of the world. Muslim holidays will follow a lunar calendar which is dictated by the moon. This calendar is about 11 days shorter than the Julian calendar. Jewish holidays occur at the same time each year on a Jewish calendar. This calendar is also of a different length than the Julian calendar.

The following information discusses some of the holidays that feature lamb or goat meat and points out the sizes and sexes that should be sold for these markets. A table with holiday dates can be found after the holiday descriptions.

Many sources are available to find information on holidays as well as holiday dates. Knowing these dates from year to year is very helpful in planning for breeding times so that you can sell the appropriate size animal for a particular market. The table on the next page lists the dates of various holidays from 2007 through 2011.