More than a third of Welsh lamb producers are missing out on higher prices by failing to meet the needs of processing plants.

Although the latest figures published by red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) show the majority of producers are continuing to improve the required marketing standards, others are not.

According to the statistics from 2011, 58% of lambs that went through Welsh abattoirs met the market specifications, an increase of 12% compared to 2004.

There has also been an increase in carcass weight over that seven-year period, from 17.8kg to 18.5kg.

John Richards, HCC’s industry information officer, said producers now had a greater understanding of market requirements.

“This has come as a result of breeding improvements across the Welsh flock and training by HCC highlighting what the processing sector is looking for in terms of product quality and consistency,” he said.

Since HCC’s inception, “live to dead” courses have been run at auction markets and farmers have been taken to abattoirs to see what happens to their livestock after they leave the farm.

“Coupled with HCC’s market intelligence and knowledge transfer initiatives, this has led to farmers being better informed and equipped to address the production challenges and achieve a better price for their lambs,” said Mr Richards.

But some are still failing to meet the full market requirements because of their fat classification.

“This may be due to a number of factors, including keeping lambs on farm too long while trying to judge the best time to go to market,” said Mr Richards.

“Getting the timing right is essential, and by ensuring lambs are marketed at the correct time, farmers could increase efficiencies and receive improved profit returns.”