30 November 2001

Keen carcass bidding likely

CARCASS competitions will be the highlight for many farmers attending the Fair. Entries include 91 single lambs, 34 pairs of lambs and 12 pork carcasses.

The cancellation of traditional pre-Christmas fatstock shows is expected to encourage retail butchers to put a keen edge on bidding for carcasses that come with championship rosettes.

Tom Davies, who judges classes for pairs of lambs, could well be one of the bidders. Being able to display a top prizewinner on his stall at Llanidloes Market Hall would please his regular customers, and perhaps attract new ones.

But Mr Davies also knows that the type of lambs he selects as the best at the fair will optimise his margin by giving a high yield of good quality meat.

"I will be looking for lambs with good length and conformation, and just the right amount of fat cover to eat well. In other words the sort of lambs I try to sell every week."

Competition between retail butchers in his home town is fierce and he is convinced that he has to offer top quality meat and present it very attractively. He says farmers can use carcass shows as a guide to providing the sort of animals he needs to keep himself and them in business.

The same marketing message will feature on the Meat and Livestock Commissions stand, together with an attempt to persuade beef producers to keep better costings, and a campaign to get more sheep flocks involved in scrapie genotyping.

"We will be publishing a survey of production costs, which shows very big variations between farms. It also indicates that many farmers simply do not know their own figures," says Gwyn Howells, MLCs Wales manager.

"Sheep producers have to be ready to make changes to meet market specifications and we have to move very quickly now on scrapie if our markets are to be secure."