25 September 1998

WERE MAKING PROGRESS

No one can deny that it has been a tough year for sheep producers so far. Poor weather has slowed finishing, the strength of sterling has continued almost unabated, and recent scaremongering about sheep and BSE has only added to the despair felt by many.

But it is against that background that the sheep industry continues to move forwards. In so many other industries, progress stops at the same time as profits fall. But at least sheep producers have the benefits of on-going, practical research and marketing strategies.

In this Update, we look at the potential offered by cervical AI using frozen semen and the SACs CT scanner.

While many will remember the publicity surrounding the first CT scanning efforts – when an off-duty hospital scanner was employed – the opportunities now offered to the sheep industry to continue carcass improvement must be grasped.

The benefit of the newly-launched television marketing campaign for lamb cant be disputed either. Despite its seemingly high initial cost, where younger consumers can be persuaded to eat lamb then it is likely that they will remain lamb buyers for life, boosting a market already worth £791m.

But on farm, coping with depressed prices is anything but easy. Cutting costs may seem the only way forward, but one consultant writing in this Update urges careful thought before drastically reducing feed costs. While lower costs may seem the only option, maintaining, or even increasing output, is vital, so consider knock-on effects of any measures before you take them.