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    British Lambs Deliver Record Carcase Quality
2009-04-26

British lambs shook off the marketing disruptions of 2007 to turn in a record carcase quality performance last year, according to the latest annual classification results from EBLEX Ltd, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England.

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texel lambs

Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board classification reports from a sample of more than 160,000 lambs slaughtered in British abattoirs in 2008 show a modern day record of 59% meeting the target ‘R3L or better’ specification required by the main lamb buyers.

Both new and old season lambs achieved levels of target specification carcases comfortably above those of the past five years at 62% and 52% respectively, demonstrating valuable improvements in production and marketing.

This performance contrasts markedly with the 56% of new season and 50% of old season lamb carcases meeting the target specification in 2007 when both FMD and Bluetongue movement restrictions seriously disrupted marketings.

Having increased sharply to 19.5 kg as result of marketing delays in 2007, average carcase weights fell back to a more normal 18.9 kg in 2008.

At the same time, the quality of carcases in all weight bands showed a marked improvement not just over the one year but over all previous years. Indeed, for the first time ever, the proportion of mainstream 16-19.9 kg new season carcases classifying ‘R3L or better’ nudged the 70% mark while well over 50% of 12-15.9 kg carcases best suited for export hit the target specification.

Not surprisingly given the primary impact of the 2007 restrictions, by far the greatest annual quality gains are apparent in levels of new season lamb finish. Fully 77% of their carcases classified 3L or leaner compared to just 71% the year before, heavier lambs showing the most marked leanness improvements.

British Lamb Carcase Performance 2008 (AHDB)
 

3L or Leaner

R or Better

R3L or Better*

2007

2008

2007

2008

2007

2008

All Lambs

72%

76%

77%

79%

54%

59%

New Season Lambs

71%

77%

81%

82%

56%

62%

Old Season Lambs

74%

75%

72%

73%

50%

52%

* Both leaner and better conformation

Practical guidance to support continued improvements in carcase quality is available free of charge to English levy payers through the EBLEX Beef Returns Programme and the Lamb Action for Profit resource, both accessible at www.eblex.org.uk.

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EBLEX