Light lamb scheme moves closer to lift-off

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

THE vi­a­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ing a mar­ket for light lamb off the hills in the west of Ire­land is be­ing ex­plored by the INHFA and Kepak.

The INHFA has con­firmed that tri­als have al­ready taken place this sum­mer to fin­ish lambs within a spec­i­fied weight range and at a given fat cover.

“The INHFA along with Kepak and Bord Bia be­gan tri­als to­wards the end of July where light lambs be­tween 9kg and 15kg would be sup­plied to Kepak Ath­league with a guar­an­teed fat score of two or bet­ter,” ex­plained Bren­dan Joyce of the INHFA.

“We brought a num­ber of farm­ers to Kepak’s fac­tory in Ath­league where those lambs were as­sessed be­fore and af­ter slaugh­ter in an ed­u­ca­tion process so as to en­sure that any is­sue around the qual­ity could be ad­dressed.”

“Since then be­tween 50 and 100 lambs per week were sup­plied to the stan­dard set down.

“Those lambs have been of­fered to var­i­ous mar­kets where feed­back is col­lated.

“That in­for­ma­tion is now in­form­ing the fo­cus and di­rec­tion of the con­tin­u­ing trial in or­der to de­velop a sus­tain­able mar­ket into the fu­ture.”

Out­lets

Mr Joyce claimed that the feed­back from both pro­ces­sors and the mar­kets was that po­ten­tial out­lets ex­isted for light hill lamb if the spec­i­fi­ca­tion in terms of fat cover can be met.

Fac­to­ries that had tried to sup­ply the mar­ket in the past found that un­der-fleshed light lambs were a re­cur­ring prob­lem, and this proved a sig­nif­i­cant bar­rier to de­vel­op­ing the trade.

How­ever, Mr Joyce main­tained that hill lamb had not been pro­moted in the past in a “mean­ing­ful and de­ter­mined fash­ion”.

“Var­i­ous groups had tried to de­velop niche mar­kets for the light lamb but very of­ten found their out­lets sought to in­crease the car- cass weights to 14-15kgs,” he said.

“This forced many hill lamb pro­duc­ers to sell their lambs as stores, of­ten at rock bot­tom prices.”

Mean­while, Tea­gasc Athenry has on­go­ing tri­als on the feed­ing re­quire­ments to bring dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of light lambs to French car­cass weights.

That work is now be­ing be­ing ex­panded this year to in­clude fin­ish­ing lambs on meal at lighter weights.

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