Agnello del Centro Italia is the meat from lambs bred on central Italy’s pastures, where the succession of historical events marked the ups and downs of sheep farming. Under the Roman Empire, the sheep was considered an excellent bargaining chip which was interrupted with the fall of the Empire through plagues and wars, then, under the Papal State, they resumed when Pope Bonifacio IX built the Pecudium Customshouse in 1402 allowing the free passage of herds through the state by charging a fee for safe conduct.
Transhumance is linked with the production of lightweight lambs: their movements limited the lambs’ growth by up to 3 months. The production of heavy lamb is the result of sedentary farming or sharecropping with numerous small flocks. The agnello del Centro Italia is obtained from the slaughter of lambs less than 12 months old, belonging to the following local or cross-bred races, and used in the production of meat or for dual purpose (meat/milk): Appenninica, Bergamasca, Biellese, Fabrianese, Merinizzata Italiana, Pomarancina, Sopravissana, Zerasca; Comisana, Cornella Bianca, Cornigliese, Garfagnina Bianca, Gentile di Puglia, Massese, Pagliarola, Pecora delle Langhe.
The lambs are weaned exclusively on breast milk and then fed with fodder made up of wild meadow plants, sown pasture, greens and/or grasses, wholly provided by the geographical area. A limited amount of mineral and/or vitamin supplements are allowed. Slaughter takes place in the production area and the carcasses of lambs, marked for identification, are divided into three categories: light (weight not exceeding 13 kg down to a minimum of 8 kg), heavy (weighing more than 13 kg) and castrated (minimum weight of 20 kg).
The tenderness of the meat and the good meat/bone ratio is achieved thanks to the productive attitude of the breeds used, intensified by the good quality feed, the pastures where they feed for at least 8 months a year and where there are also distinguishing herbal essences.
The Agnello del Centro Italia production area covers all the territories coming within the following regions: Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria, and Emilia Romagna part of the territories of the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma.