Lamb finishers given marketing warning

Store lamb finishers should market all lambs as soon as they reach their full potential and avoid the temptation to hold on to stock too long, warns EBLEX.

Chasing improving prices and extra weight in an attempt to compensate for higher purchase costs could prove a false economy – reliable spring market rises are likely to be limited, feed prices are high and over-fatness is also a risk.

In addition, most of the weight gain in heavier lambs is in the form of fat, which takes about four times the energy to put on than muscle.

Store lambs in England and Wales have cost an average £5 a head more than last season year. Although this is lower than in 2010, average English SQQ lamb prices for January this year at more than 175p/kg liveweight were markedly better than any other year in recent memory, says EBLEX, which advises producers to:

• Handle and weigh store lambs regularly so they can be marketed within the mainstream EUR 2/3L specification as soon as they are fit – this will almost invariably generate the highest overall margins

• Take equal care to avoid under-finishing stores

• Understand the market – maintain regular communication with livestock markets and abattoir procurement staff and using the markets section of the EBLEX website

• Accurately batching lambs by size and finish – all producers are advised to attend a practical EBLEX “live to dead” event at least once a year to hone selection skills

• See or call 0870 241 8528 for details of events and other practical guidance on store lamb finishing and selection.