Lamb meat production

The majority of HKScan’s lamb production is based on contract farming, as well as close cooperation between HKScan and the family farmers. We provide guidance and training to our contract farms. HKScan has sheep and lamb production only in Sweden, where lamb meat is sold under the Scan brand. HKScan cooperates with approximately 2 500 lamb producers in Sweden and there are around 100 000 animals reared.

Lamb breeds

Our lamb breeds in Sweden are most commonly either landraces from Sweden or Finland or meat breeds imported from other countries. Landraces include e.g. Gotland sheep, Fine-wool sheep and Rya-sheep. Meat breeds are e.g. Texel, Leicester, Oxford, Suffolk and Dorset horn down. It is also common to cross different breeds in order to combine their good qualities. All breeds are used for the production of lamb meat. Gotland sheep, after the characteristic curly fur, is the largest of the breed.

Practices in animal husbandry

Housing buildings are not heated and have open space. This ensures that the lambs stay in groups and get enough light and fresh air. Older stables, previously used for dairy production and pig production, are often used. It is not very common to have newly built stables for lamb production.

The lambs live in groups, have straw beds and can move freely. A slatted floor is not allowed for sheep and lambs in Sweden. The practices concerting feeding space, moving area and the ability to get fresh water are defined by law.

The age of lambs at slaughter varies between 3 months and 12 months. Lambs born during the winter stay indoors with more concentrated feeding. As a result, they grow faster than lambs born in the spring and are ready for slaughter only after 3–4 months. Lambs born in the spring always graze outside, as required by the laws and regulations. Grass-fed lambs grow more slowly and are ready for slaughter after 5–12 months. Sheep and lambs perform an important task in grazing and keeping the landscape open. In addition, grass used for feed or grazing is important for the CO2 binding process. The average weight of a carcass is 18.5–19.5 kilos.

Physical alteration practices

Ram lambs are normally not castrated in Sweden, unlike in other prominent lamb and sheep production countries over the world. Tail docking is neither allowed in Sweden.

Antibiotics and hormones

The use of antibiotics at farms is strictly supervised by legalised veterinarians and no antimicrobial treatments are used to promote the growth of lambs. In Sweden, the level of using antimicrobials for food producing animals is one of the lowest in Europe. The use is restricted by national legislation. The prophylactic or metaphylactic use of antimicrobials is forbidden.

The Swedish legislation forbids the use of hormones for the purpose of growth stimulation. Hormones are only used, if prescribed by a veterinarian, for ewes, mostly for heating synchronisation.

Read more about antibiotics and HKScan’s practices from the Corporate Responsibility Fact sheet.

Animal welfare non-conformity

There have been no illegal offences resulting in a fine or penalty within our lamb production operations in 2017. We follow our methods and practices and, in any case of any deviation, take corrective actions immediately.


At Linköping slaughterhouse, HKScan invested in a restrainer technique, which significantly lowers stress when handling lambs before stunning. The system is unique in Sweden.