Welsh lambs meet market requirements

Welsh lambs meet market requirements

The sheep industry in Wales saw an increased number of lambs meeting market requirements during 2013, according to new figures compiled for Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Of those lambs slaughtered in Welsh abattoirs, 59 per cent hit the main markets’ targets for conformation and fat classification, compared with 57 per cent in 2012.

“The results show that there has been an improvement over the last 12 months, while also highlighting that there is still some work to be done. There continues to be lambs marketed with excess finish, adding an avoidable cost burden to both the producer and processor,” said John Richards, Industry and Market Information Officer for HCC.

In 2013, Welsh abattoirs saw a promising four per cent drop in the conformation of lamb throughput classed as lower O grade, with the total standing at 14 per cent by the end of the year.

“This is a positive development for both Welsh farmers and processors. There are many factors behind this improvement, including improved genetics in the Welsh flock,” added Mr Richards.

“We are keen to work with the industry to encourage a further downturn in the number of lambs classed at lower grades or with excess finish, and encourage all farmers to attend a carcase selection training course, arranged by HCC. These sessions are an invaluable opportunity to meet buyers and discuss current market requirements, resulting in a clearer understanding of how to select the ideal lamb carcase.”

Defra figures show that 3.36 million sheep were slaughtered at Welsh abattoirs in 2013, which was three per cent less (or over 100,000 head) than the previous year. Sheep meat production, however, increased by one per cent during the year and stood at 62,100 tonnes.

“The increased production can be attributed to higher carcase weights due to a combination of factors. These include increased carryover of lambs in early 2013, improved lamb finishing conditions last summer and producers aiming to achieve higher carcase weights.” said Mr Richards.

A total of 31 carcase selection training courses were held at red meat processing plants and on farms in Wales during the autumn and winter of 2013. The free sessions provide attendees with an insight into live selection and assessment, carcase viewing and classification, current abattoir and consumer requirements as well as animal health and welfare.

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