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Stackyard News May 2011

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Five-Year British Lamb Quality Gains Maintained

The steadily improving quality of British lamb carcases was well-maintained in 2010, reveal the latest annual carcase classification results from EBLEX, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England.


british lamb

The reports, from a sample of some 121,000 lambs slaughtered in British abattoirs last year, show 58% meeting the target ‘R3L or Better’ specification required by the main lamb buyers. A slight improvement on 2009, this maintains the momentum of the five year national carcase quality gain highlighted in last year’s figures.

The 2010 data further underline the continuing quality gap between old and new season lambs. While this is not surprising, the seven percentage point difference between the 52% of old season and 59% of new season lambs meeting the target carcase specification is noticeably less than the 10 point gap of 2005.

This suggests old season lamb finishers are making relatively greater progress in improving carcase quality. Interestingly too, their gains appear to have been achieved in a distinctly different way.

The latest figures show the improvement in new season lamb quality since 2005 has been entirely due to greater success in meeting the ‘R or Better’ conformation target. Indeed, this has offset a slight decline in finishing success.

Markedly less conformation improvement is evident over the five years with old season lambs. However, far greater progress has been in the quality of their finishing. To such an extent that the proportion of old season carcases classifying ‘3L or Leaner’ is now higher than that of new season lambs.

British Lamb Carcase Performance 2005-2010 (AHDB)
British Lamb Carcase Performance 2005-2010 (AHDB)
* Both leaner and better conformation

While conformation improvement is a long-term business, it is clear that this needs to be a particular priority for the old season sector. Equally, those marketing new season lambs need to place relatively more improvement emphasis on achieving the right degree of finish.

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

link British Beef Carcase Quality Improvement Slows
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