Sort sheep for better returns, eblex advises

SHEEP PRODUCERS could boost returns at livestock marts by sorting sheep before sale, says the English Beef and Lamb Executive.

Producers who sorted sheep by weight and fat class under EBLEX”s Better Returns Programme at Skipton market, North Yorks, achieved a premium of over £2 a lamb.

The BRP project also revealed that one meat processor had halved the number of over-fat lambs it bought from the mart during the trial. BRP project manager Chris Lloyd said: “These results demonstrate a clear financial advantage for producers who sort their lambs.

buyers’ needs

“Auction marts have a wide selection of buyers looking for a specific type of lamb. What they don’t want is mixed batches that reduce their efficiency. Vendors who present their lambs evenly, to match buyers’ needs, have more chance of commanding a premium for what they sell.”

The five-week pilot scheme, which ran at Skipton last autumn, saw lambs sorted into four categories according to carcase classification.

The project revealed 2-3L lambs returned a premium of about 5p/kg, equating to about £2 a head, while 3H-4L grades made an extra £1.25 a head.

Chris Dodds, secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said: “It’s always to the vendor’s advantage to ensure stock are drawn as well as possible. Buyers want sheep that are uniform in conformation, weight and fat level.”