NZ sheep could boost value of flocks in UK

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Marks & Spencer is rec­om­mend­ing Bri­tish farm­ers buy New Zealand sheep ge­net­ics to lift their in­dus­try.

The big Bri­tish re­tailer said its re­search showed New Zealand sheep could im­prove the ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity of Bri­tain’s sheep in­dus­try, be­cause New Zealand sheep were more pro­duc­tive and had a smaller car­bon foot­print.

‘‘For a num­ber of years, com­mer­cial volatil­ity has seen in­creas­ing num­bers of sheep pro­duc­ers leav­ing the in­dus­try in the UK,’’ M&S spokesman Steve McLean said.

‘‘Over the last seven years, we have worked with Fo­cus Ge­net­ics and a num­ber of UK farm­ers to try to repli­cate their suc­cess­ful New Zealand lamb pro­duc­tion model in the UK.’’

Marks & Spencer com­mis­sioned Agri-Food and Bio­sciences In­sti­tute and the Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Ru­ral En­ter­prise to re­search a ‘‘sus­tain­able lamb trial’’, in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mer­its of us­ing high­lander and primera sheep breeds in Bri­tish flocks to max­imise value.

The trial com­pared a ‘‘typ­i­cal’’ Bri­tish pro­duc­tion sys­tem, us­ing mule and texel breeds, with flocks con­tain­ing high­lander and primera ge­net­ics.

Per­for­mance was recorded dur­ing pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing, fol­lowed by con­sumer taste pan­els.

The trial con­cluded that switch­ing from mule to high­lander ewes of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop a more sus­tain­able lamb sup­ply chain, in­clud­ing through lower green­house gas emis­sions, McLean said.

Re­plac­ing texel rams with primera rams brought faster growth rates and a higher pro­por­tion of high-value cuts, he said.

BRI­TAIN BOUND: A Bri­tish re­tailer is rec­om­mend­ing Bri­tish buy New Zealand sheep ge­net­ics.

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