Forty lambs were used to investigate effects of suckling length and rearing type (single and twin) on welfare parameters, carcass and meat quality characteristics. SC-45 and SC-75 lambs were weaned at 45-d and 75-d of age, respectively, whereas SC-120 lambs were not weaned until slaughter age of 120-d. The elevated cortisol concentration due to weaning stress returned to pre-weaning level at 2-d after weaning. SC-120 lambs had higher daily gain, plasma cortisol and glucose levels at exsanguination, hot carcass weight, dressing percentage and fatness score than weaned lambs. Suckling length did not influence instrumental meat quality characteristics, except shear force. SC-45 lambs had tougher meat than other groups according to instrumental and sensory analyses. SC-75 and SC-120 lambs had similar meat shear force value and sensory scores. Single lambs had higher daily gain, and greater scores for carcass characteristics and sensory evaluation, and lower pH(24) and shear force than twin lambs. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.