By FW Livestock Staff

PRODUCERS unable to finish lambs to 40kg liveweight could take advantage of Sainsburys intention to take about 1000 light lambs a week from farm-assured flocks. However, prices are likely to be lacklustre.

Aiming for carcass weights of 12-14kg and conformation of E-O and fat class 2-3, Sainsburys new move will boost lambs sales normally destined for export to Europe, according to MLC economist Lesley Green.

The retailer intends to source lambs from upland areas and payment will depend on carcass grade. These light lamb cuts will be promoted and packed to appeal to smaller households.

Describing it as a helpful development, Mrs Green adds that light lambs fetch lower prices per kilogram than those sold at 40kg-plus liveweight. With average lamb slaughterings of between 300,000 and 350,000 a week, the extra demand is unlikely to affect prices significantly, she says.

Smaller Blackface lambs would fit into this weight bracket, says Kinross-based Signet consultant Peter Cappon. “But it might be difficult to get good carcass conformation on lambs at this weight.”

Swaledale wether lambs off the hills will also fit Sainsburys carcass specifications, says Cumbria-based ADAS consultant John Rockliffe: “Taking lighter lambs is a step in the right direction. However, its difficult to improve conformation of lambs at these weights as feeding concentrates will only increase fat levels.”