Change to definition of ‘lamb’ a win-win for all
Resolve has finally been put in favour of Australian sheep producers in the long campaign to change the definition of lamb.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud recently announced Australia would match New Zealand’s definition of lamb, which allows for a continued lamb classification after two permanent incisor teeth became available.
His aim, to be finalised early next year, has been to remove the unfair advantage that NZ producers had in the market.
Mr Littleproud said during decades of debate, Australian lamb had grown into the less lucrative “hogget” or mutton classification as soon as incisor teeth were visible.
“Australian lamb will continue to be called lamb when the animal has two permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth are new and have not begun to wear,” he said.
“Our export definition will now match New Zealand’s definition and our own new AUS-MEAT definition.”
Mr Littleproud said Australian growers would be able to sell more lambs towards the end of the growing season and expand their lamb export opportunities.
“It will be easy for growers to see when a lamb becomes a sheep — when there is visible wear on the incisors.
“The lamb definition change will require an amendment to the Export Control Orders 2005.”
WA Meat Marketing Co-operative chief executive Coll MacRury called the new ruling a win-win for producers and processors.
“Producers can expect to increase their lamb revenue as much as $30 to $50/head and processors will have more lamb to process during the off-peak season,” he said.
Kojonup lamb feed-lotter Geoff Bilney welcomed the change, saying it would improve his total “lamb” output by up to 5 per cent.
Research by Meat and Livestock Australia found no discernible difference in eating quality between lambs immediately prior to incisor teeth and immediately afterwards.