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What you should know about hormones and lamb

Readers have asked question whether lamb is injected with hormones like conventionally grown beef, pork and chicken.

While we recommend selecting organically grown lamb or grass fed lamb whenever possible, it is much less likely that they have been injected with the hormones so commonly given to beef, pork and chickens. One reason for this is because baby lamb are often still drinking mother’s milk and what we usually call lamb is the pinkish meat from young animals that are usually only 5 to 6 months old (up to one year) so do not require the hormones that would help them grow into a large animal.

Grass versus grain fed meat

There is research available demonstrating that ruminants like cows are designed for grass versus grain consumption. Among other things, the consumption of grains by cows can lead to bloat - formation of gas in the ruminant digestive system. Surfactant drugs that help pop gas bubbles in the cows’ digestive tracts are often given to grain-fed cattle. (These drugs can also be given to organically-raised cows on the basis of individual medical need, but not as a preventive measure).

Since certified organic meat must come from animals that were given organic feed (grain or grass), we don’t think that the difference between grass and grain feeding is as great (from a nutritional standpoint) as the difference between organic and non-organic meat. However, we would still recommend grass-fed over grain-fed meat because of the more natural fit involved here.

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