American Lamb – from Shepherd to Chef

When you menu local lamb, you’re supporting the nation’s shepherds and their families.

There are approximately 80,000 sheep farms and ranches in the United States, the vast majority of which are family owned and operated. They are located in every state – from small flock operations grazing on the grasses of the northeast to larger flocks foraging in the high mountain ranges of the west.

Grazing Sheep

Today’s shepherds are family-focused, entrepreneurial and dedicated to the health and welfare of their sheep.  Their operations are diverse because sheep adapt to a wide range of climates and management systems.

While sheep producers raise a variety of sheep breeds depending on the location, the focus is on producing quality lamb. U.S. sheep producers raise sheep known as meat breeds, rather than wool breeds. These meat breeds are regarded for their larger size and tender meat.

American lamb are raised on high-quality, natural forage diets with minimal environmental impact and an eye toward stewardship and conservation. The pastures can include an array of grasses, as well as forage such as legumes, weeds and woody, brushy plants.

Cumin and Mustard Rack of Lamb and White Bean Salad - Slicing

Depending on the quality of forage, some lambs are marketed directly from the range or pasture while others are grain finished for a short period of time.

Sheep work like self-propelled lawnmowers. Their natural grazing skills have led to some interesting uses, from preventing forest fires by having sheep clear undergrowth in forests and wooded areas to wineries using sheep to graze weeds in the vineyards.

No artificial growth hormones are used in lamb production in the United States.

Earn Continuing Education Hours

The American Lamb Board’s new “Curriculamb” is a culinary education program about the American Lamb – from shepherd to chef.  The program includes information about the U.S. sheep industry, cooking techniques, videos on fabrication and more. The program has been approved by the The American Culinary Federation for 4.5 Continuing Education Hours (CEHs).  Go to to learn more about American Lamb and to take the quiz to earn CEHs.