5 July 2002

Autumn lamb marketing to fore

LAMB finishers should start to think about autumn marketing now to make the most of the opportunity resumption of live lamb exports presents.

The export trade will be looking for all lamb types, but they must have good cover without being too fat. Lighter weight lambs will be demanded by the Italian and Spanish trade, while the French will be seeking a similar lamb to the home trade, says David Owen of Farmers Ferry.

"We expect to be sending lambs to the continent from early August and advise producers to keep a close eye on lamb finish, so we can ensure sufficient numbers are available to fill the expected demand from our customers."

With grass growth continuing well through the early summer, there shouldnt be any noticeable shortage of lambs available for the trade. However, care is needed when selecting lambs and routine procedures should be developed to ensure consistent quality, says Mr Owen.

"To regain the markets for British lambs pre foot-and-mouth, lambs must be of the right quality every time. There are plenty of lambs available from other sources to fill the gap in Europe, so we must ensure lambs sent are what our customers want. Keeping lambs an extra week to gain a few lbs in weight will mean deductions if they are not right for the trade."

Farmers Ferry expects to be consigning 7000-8000 lambs/ week, in addition to the 6500 currently being sent as carcasses. It hopes that by sending these numbers it will be able to remove a significant number of lighter hill lambs from the domestic trade.

But due to current DEFRA rules all lambs for live export will have to be sourced direct from farms, says Mr Owen. &#42