INCREASING CARCASS weight through genetic improvement could help UK light lamb producers remain internationally competitive.

Light lambs are the main output of Scottish hill and upland farms, but the market for them is limited and presents little or no chance for growth, suggested Nuffield Scholar Ian Cairns. He sees the future for UK sheep producers in concentrating on high value markets, with the right product specification demanded by the modern market.

Involvement in processing and marketing would also put UK producers ahead of those in eastern Europe, where Mr Cairns found that producers are distant from their markets.

But in New Zealand, it is common for producers to be shareholders in processing companies.

“They tend to be knowledgeable, hungry for information and involved, thus shortening the marketing chain,” he explained.