EasyRam's New Zealand Texel ram © EasyRamsEasyRam's New Zealand Texel breed © EasyRams

Lamb producers selling to ABP will be able to get bonuses of 5p-15p/kg by using approved rams as part of a new programme.

The Alpha Lamb Producer Group is a collaboration between the processor and ram breeders EasyRams and Meatlincs and aims to improve the quality of lamb produced and the profitability of farmers.

Producers will receive bonuses for lambs sired by rams from the two breeders of 5p/kg, 10p/kg or 15p/kg depending on whether they join the bronze, silver or gold group.

See also: New terminal sire available to improve lamb profitability

Each of these three groups will have different criteria that must be met (see below for more detail). In addition, producers will have access to industry specialists who will advise on low-cost forage production systems.

The bonuses will be guaranteed as long as producers fulfil the criteria of the scheme.

Expansion

ABP expects to open the scheme to between 50 and 200 producers. It said it was early days and it would need to see how the scheme went before considering further expansion. 

Steven Feehan, ABP’s head of UK procurement, said: “Alpha Producer Group members will not only be receiving bonuses on their Alpha Ram-sired lambs, but will also be given access to group meetings and consultancy advice that will concentrate on developing low-cost production systems through improved grazing management, sheep genetics and animal health.”

Tom Dracup, livestock adviser at the NFU, said it was good to see processors working collaboratively with the industry and offering a range of schemes that gave producers different options and promoted best practice. 

However, he said farmers should weigh up the commitment the scheme demanded, including possible administrative costs. 

Other lamb breeders who meet the same standards as EasyRams and Meatlincs will be able to supply the programme in the future.

What producers will have to do

“Gold” producers – 15p/kg bonus

  • Everything that “silver” producers must do (see below), plus:
  • Record lamb performance
  • Record which rams produced which lambs
  • Identify breed of dams of lambs supplied
  • Breed replacements using Alpha maternal sires

“Silver” producers – 10p/kg bonus

  • Use Alpha rams
  • Adopt rotational grazing
  • Carry out FEC worm counts
  • Attend four om-farm discussion group meetings a year
  • Take farm consultancy advice to improve farm performance

“Bronze” producers – 5p/kg bonus

  • Use Alpha rams (currently supplied by just EasyRams and Meatlincs)

About ABP and the ram breeders

ABP

The processor is one of the largest in the UK, working with 35,000 farmers.  Its Yetminster site in Dorset is the base of all its UK lamb slaughterings. Lambs and ewes are sourced throughout England and Wales.

EasyRams   

Based in Shropshire, the family-run company is the UK’s sole breeder of New Zealand Suffolk Texel and Sufftex rams. It was started and is still run by Robyn Hulme and his family.

Rams are only fed grass and all sales are ex farm. The company has sold more than 1,800 rams over the past decade to 600 commercial UK sheep farmers.

Easy Ram's New Zealand Suffolk ram © EasyRams

Easy Ram’s New Zealand Suffolk breed © EasyRams

Meatlincs

Started in the 1960s by Henry Fell, the business has bred the only new breed of sheep in the UK in the 20th century. It originated from a programme crossing five-breeds.

Management and selection of Meatlinc sheep uses detailed performance recording. Rams are only bred by the five members of the Meatlinc Sheep Company.

How to find out more 

Contact the following people: 

  • ABP – Dan Westmoor – 01935 874 168
  • EasyRams – Robyn and Nick Hulme – 01939 270 670
  • Meatlinc – George Fell – 01904 448 675