Poor weather knocked quality of 2013 lamb crop

Last year’s difficult spring weather meant the number of new season lambs reaching R3L grades or better fell by 1.3% points in 2013, figures from EBLEX have revealed.

Just 58.8% of new season lambs reached the target R3L or better, compared with 60.1% in 2012, said EBLEX scientist Dylan Laws. “Difficult spring weather, which resulted in additional creep feeding of lambs, may have contributed to them becoming fit quicker than expected.”

However, the proportion of old season lambs reaching the grade increased by 2.2% points to 52.9%, meaning the overall average for both old and new season lambs remained virtually unchanged on the year at 57.6%.

“There is still concern that some producers are holding on to their lambs at some times of the year while waiting for market prices to rise,” said Mr Laws. “In November and December 2013 over one in four lambs that classified as R or better were fat class 3H or above.

“Fat deposition requires four times the amount of energy needed to produce lean tissue, such as muscle. Frequent, careful handling of stock is essential to ensure each animal has reached its target specification.”

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