Sheep Classification

Sheep Classification

​The EU sheep carcase classification mechanism establishes common criteria for the classification of meat quality across the European Union, thereby ensuring common classification standards across all member States. The classification of sheep is not mandatory, and given the low volumes of ovine slaughter in Malta, ovines are not being graded.

Having a common classification standard ensures that consumers across the EU can compare the quality of meat produced/processed in any other EU member State and hence purchase the quality of meat most to their liking whilst avoiding subjective quality descriptions which may vary from one region to another.  Besides, it also enables the operation of an EU-wide price reporting system, and the comparison of prices of meat of similar quality across the EU. 

Classification for ovines is carried out on three levels as follows:

Category: All ovines are classified under one of two different categories according to their age: L for carcases of sheep under 12 months old and S for carcases of all other sheep.

Conformation (SEUROP): this denotes the shape of the carcase taking into consideration the carcase’s round, back and shoulder and is denoted by the letters S (Superior), E (Excellent), U (Very Good), R (Good), O (Fair), P  (Poor).
Fat (Fat Class 1-5): this denotes the amount of fat on the outside of the carcase and in the thoracic cavity. It is denoted by the numbers 1 (Low), 2 (Slight), 3 (Average), 4 (High), 5 (very High).