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English Lambs Improve in Carcase Quality
22/04/08

The quality of lambs slaughtered and classified in English abattoirs has held up remarkably well over the past year in the face of the serious marketing disruptions caused by foot and mouth disease and Bluetongue movement restrictions, according to the latest annual carcase classification results from EBLEX Ltd, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England.

© www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk

beltex lambs

EBLEX classification reports compiled from a representative sample of lambs slaughtered in English abattoirs in 2007 show 58% of new and 52% of old season lambs classified R3L or better over the year satisfying the specification for the main lamb markets. This represents a drop of 1% over the previous year.

The figures indicate producers were selling fatter lambs as the numbers hitting the preferred fatness of ‘3L or leaner’ were down by 4%. This is partially explained by a parallel rise in average carcase weight of 0.6kg over 2006 indicating producers held onto lambs longer as a result of difficult marketing conditions.

English Lamb Carcase Performance 2007 (EBLEX)

 

3L or Leaner

R or Better

R3L or Better*

 

2006

2007

2006

2007

2006

2007

All Lambs

73%

69%

81%

83%

57%

56%

New Season Lambs

71%

70%

83%

87%

58%

58%

Old Season Lambs

75%

69%

77%

79%

56%

52%

* Both leaner and better conformation

Lower prices in the early part of the year saw producers choose to hold onto lambs hoping for a lift in the market. FMD and Bluetongue movement restrictions disrupted the normal trading patterns of the peak late summer/autumn lamb sales season. The usual export of lambs under 16kg over this period would have helped keep average lamb weight down, but this trade was curtailed for a crucial part of the season.

On the plus side the figures for conformation show a 2% improvement in lambs classifying as R or better. The uptake of better genetics across the industry will have had some impact on this improvement and shows the importance for breeders selecting breeding animals carefully to produce lambs meeting the required market specification.

The EBLEX Better Returns Programme (BRP) runs courses for farmers to help them better understand market specifications and selection for slaughter techniques. English sheep producers wishing to take part in local events should ring 0870 2418528 or visit the Sheep BRP section on the EBLEX website at www.eblex.org.uk.

link Sea Change in Commercial Lamb Production
link Blackface Sheep Breeders Association Spring Show 2008
link All Change at Suffolk Sheep Society AGM

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