New way to define lamb
THE Federal Government has committed to amend the definition of lamb in Australia’s export legislation, enabling sheep under 12 months of age, or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear, to now be classified as lamb.
The change will enable young sheep to continue to be called lamb when they have one or two permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth are new and have not begun to wear.
The announcement by Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, David Littleproud, brings sheepmeat classifications for Australian lamb producers into line with major export competitor, New Zealand.
Sheep industry leaders have campaigned for the change for close to 20 years and say common sense has prevailed, enabling farmers the opportunity to finish and supply lambs with more certainty.
Until now, Australian lamb has fallen into the less lucrative hogget, yearling or mutton classification as soon as incisor teeth were visible, whereas in New Zealand, lamb is still considered lamb after one or two teeth, not in wear, had popped through.
The move will also be consistent with new AUS-MEAT definitions.
Mr Littleproud said the change was “a simple common-sense change” removing the unfair advantage he believes NZ producers have over our farmers.
“This will mean our growers can sell more lambs towards the end of the growing season and expand their lamb export opportunities,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Lamb will continue to be called lamb when they have two permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth are new and have not begun to wear.
“The change will require amendment to the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005, to change the definition.”
Research by Meat and Livestock Australia found no discernible difference in eating quality between lambs immediately prior to incisor teeth and immediately afterwards.
DEFINITION CHANGES: Young sheep under 12 months of age, or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear, can now be classified as lamb.