NZ sheep could boost value of flocks in UK
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.