8 December 2000

Independent assurance move

THE South Mayo Quality Lamb Producer Group has recently taken steps to embrace a fully independent quality assurance scheme.

According to Teagasc adviser Gerry Murphy, who was involved with establishing the group in 1986, the group wanted to create a thorough assurance programme that was not just window dressing.

The new scheme was developed through negotiations with Teagasc, Dawn Meats and Bord Bia – the Irish government food board – using European funding from the Leader project. Each of the producer groups 180 farmer members has an individual number used to tag all breeding ewes and slaughter lambs.

Ewes are given a yellow Ketchum plastic tip tag and lambs a white tag in the right ear. Each tag carries the members number and an individual animal number. The cost of 15p/tag is covered by Leader project funding, so extra traceability costs members nothing.

The programme enables members not only to comply with high levels of traceability, but also commits them to a detailed assurance programme covering feed, management, health and animal welfare.

Information from the abattoir on individual lambs killing out % and breed was already proving useful, said Mr Murphy. In addition, ewe tagging provided a useful aid in mating, lambing and management.

But, he added that whether the scheme was ultimately successful depended on it commanding a premium price. Mr Murphy was confident that would materialise. &#42