Mutton events planned

A project to improve mutton sales and give a boost to north-East hill farms has two special events planned early in the year.

Farmers and restaurateurs can attend the 'Live to Dead' mutton slaughter day on 10 January, which will teach delegates how to predict grade quality on live sheep. Delegates will predict the grading of 12 live sheep, which will then go to slaughter at the Whitley Bay Meat Supply Company before the carcases are classified by an expert.

On 19 February, a second event, featuring mutton cookery, will take place at Newcastle College. Some of the region's top chefs will serve up a selection of mutton dishes for guests at lunchtime.

Sheep farmer Nick White said: "In the past, mutton has been seen as a tough meat that is only fit for slow cooking. However, meat from younger animals is actually very tender and chefs who have tried it report that it has a fantastic flavour.

"Our task is to gather information about how to produce and brand a high-quality mutton that will appeal to the public. There are some challenges ahead, because a sheep that is more than one year old has to have its spinal cord removed by law. This adds extra cost and can affect the carcase during the hanging period."

The 'Live to Dead' event starts at 10.30am and finishes around 3.30pm, while the mutton cookery and taste-testing session opens at 11am with coffee and refreshments. Both events are free of charge, although numbers are limited.

To book a place, telephone Nick White on 01748 831910 or email

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