Sheep farmers supplying Asda through Welsh Country Foods now have the option of supplying heavy lambs weighing between 25kg and 30kg to capitalise on the ability ofsome breeds to reach heavier weights.
Prys Morgan, WCF procurement manager, told FW at this week’s Royal Welsh Show that the move was in response to farmers’ needs and reflected the improvements in breeding which have been made in recent years.
“Traditionally, lambs reaching these weights would have been overfat, but increased emphasis on performance recording has meant lambs can easily meet fat class specification of 2 or 3L.”
But Mr Morgan said there were a number of conditions lambs would have to meet. “Anything 3H or fatter will be penalised heavily, with deductions starting at 35p/kg. And lambs will have to be pre-booked as heavy lambs.
We don’t want the odd one or two coming from standard batches, but groups of evenly-matched lambs. Also, farmers supplying standard lambs will have to keep these below 21kg or they will not be paid on the value of the carcass between 21 and 25kg.”
Mr Morgan advised farmers considering entering into the heavy lamb market to choose breeds capable of reaching heavy mature weights, as these were more likely to remain lean at heavier weights.
Asda agricultural manager Pearce Hughes said the legs and shoulders from these larger lambs would be cut into three joints to suit the modern market.