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Mutton no longer dressed as lamb

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Sustainable Industries

Mixed farmers in the Wheatbelt Region are set to benefit from recent changes proposed to the Australian definition of lamb by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.

Including livestock in the rotation can contribute to a more resilient farm business and can have productivity and environmental benefits, supporting the vision of the Regional NRM Strategy for the Avon River Basin.

The current definition of a lamb is a sheep that shows no eruption of permanent incisor teeth.  Once the adult incisor teeth erupt the meat is classed as hogget or mutton.  These classifications significantly reduce the value of the meat.  It often results in farmers hurriedly sending stock to market, often before they have been able to finish the lamb to its ideal weight.

Another problem is that teeth erupt very quickly so a farmer may send a lamb to market and a week later be paid the price of mutton.

The new proposal brings Australia in line with its New Zealand neighbours who allow the eruption of permanent incisors, provided they are not in wear.  This will allow farmers to finish their lambs more effectively and remove the problem of having a lamb reclassified after it has left the farm gate.

Australia competes with New Zealand for lamb export markets, this change will also remove the disadvantage that Australian lamb producers have against NZ product.

Developments such as this, added to strong prices for meat and wool is building confidence in the mixed farming sector. Wheatbelt NRM is supporting the growing number of mixed farmers in our region through our current project – Optimising fodder options for mixed farming.

Find out more by contacting Wheatbelt NRM Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator (RALF) Jacquie Lucas on (08) 9670 3113 or jlucas@wheatbeltnrm.org.au