2015-04-15  facebooktwitterrss

Farmers Warned Not to Hang On to Last Year’s Lambs

Farmers are encouraged to get their old season lambs away quickly to avoid losing out financially, says the National Sheep Association (NSA), suggesting the practice of carcase splitting regularly leads to reports of animals being devalued by £25 per head.

The reminder comes as many of last season’s lambs reach the age when their first permanent teeth come up, which is the current interpretation of 12 months of age when TSE regulations at a European level state that carcases must be split and the animal’s spinal cord removed.

Old Season lambs

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says farmers should make sure they are getting their old season lambs to market specifications quickly and selling them, or risk seeing the animals devalued.

He explains: “There are many farmers out there who are still finishing hogg lambs, and at this time of the year its crucial they are watching body condition closely so lambs don’t go overweight or out of spec, or to make sure they are being fed adequately to finish well in advance of teeth coming up and risking having to be split.”

“If lambs are too big the price per kilo is reduced or kilos are given away free, and the processors regularly end up with efficiency problems due to this. It requires good management to finish old season lambs at target weights and condition; getting it wrong will lead to wastage in the abattoir and increased costs which will get passed down the chain.”

Under current EU rules, old season lambs are mouthed to determine if their first pair of permanent incisors have erupted and the carcase needs to be split. Mouthing and carcase splitting costs markets and abattoirs money, which is inevitably passed to farmers through lower prices.

Mr Stocker adds: “Determining a lamb’s age through mouthing is subjective but ultimately decides the value of the lamb. The cost to the farmer of the teeth emerging will devalue the lamb and this problem will only get worse as the new season trade ramps up.”

The NSA is focused on a review of the TSE regulations at a European level, but in the meantime is working with the NFU and other industry stakeholder groups to encourage Defra and the Food Standards Agency to change the way it implements carcase splitting rules in the UK.

NSA is recommending a change to the current method of determining when an animal crosses the theoretic 12-month line and is proposing a date of the end of June following the season of birth as a cut-off date for carcase splitting, rather than incisor eruption. NSA is confident this will reduce the current time and cost of checking age by teeth – but this is only a proposal and for the time being farmers will have to comply with the current arrangements.

NSA

Related Links
link Protect Newborn Lambs by Keeping Your Dog on a Lead
link Sheep Auction Sales Grow for Fourth Year Running
link Ewe Hogg Show and Sale to Feature at NSA Highlandsheep
link NSA Takes Action to Discourage Release of Lynx


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