Lamb teeth trou­ble over

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

The def­i­ni­tion of lamb is set to be changed to make Aus­tralian pro­duc­ers more com­pet­i­tive in the in­ter­na­tional ex­port mar­ket.

An­nounced by Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud last week, the change will see Aus­tralia adopt the New Zealand def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes a lamb.

Lamb had pre­vi­ously been con­sid­ered to have grown into the less lu­cra­tive ‘‘hogget’’ or mut­ton as soon as in­cisor teeth were vis­i­ble.

Yet in New Zealand lamb was still con­sid­ered lamb af­ter two teeth had popped through.

‘‘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,’’ Mr Lit­tleproud said.

‘‘This will mean our grow­ers can 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 an­nounce­ment has been wel­comed by Sheep Pro­duc­ers Aus­tralia, which said the change de­liv­ered farm­ers ‘‘con­fi­dence’’.

SPA chair Chris Mi­rams said the body would con­tinue to work on an im­ple­men­ta­tion plan for the change in def­i­ni­tion.

‘‘The change will al­low pro­duc­ers to con­tinue to de­liver the qual­ity and con­sis­tency in lamb that our cus­tomers know and love,’’ Mr Mi­rams said.

‘‘The new def­i­ni­tion will even the play­ing field with New Zealand in our ex­port mar­kets and pro­vide pro­duc­ers with an in­di­ca­tor be­fore they in­cur the price cliff face of lamb be­ing down­graded to hogget or mut­ton.’’

Re­search by Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia found no dis­cernible dif­fer­ence in eat­ing qual­ity between lambs im­me­di­ately prior to in­cisor teeth and im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards.

The change will re­quire amend­ment to the Ex­port Con­trol (Meat and Meat Prod­ucts) Or­ders 2005 to change the def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes lamb.

The change is ex­pected to be in place by mid-next year.

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