Farmer Focus: Why ‘prime’ lamb is better for the dinner table

The Winter Fair was excellent – a really good opportunity to catch up with plenty of people I haven’t seen face-to-face over the past two years.

Such shows are so important for the rural community to allow people to catch up at the start of what seems like a long winter.

It would be interesting to read what social impact the past two years have had on rural communities due to Covid isolation and lockdowns, and in particular, the impact on mental health.

See also: Meatless Farm pulls vegan adverts after AHDB complaint

About the author

Joe Mault
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Joe Mault and his family run 850 commercial ewes and 60 suckler cows across 155ha (380 acres) near Corwen, north Wales. The farm produces Beltex and Charollais prime lambs and Charolais-cross store cattle and Joe also works at a local college.
Read more articles by Joe Mault

It has certainly been noticeable with some of the young people I have met recently that their ability to communicate and express themselves has been a challenge.

Covid-19 has obviously affected many people directly, but I wonder about the detrimental long-term effect on our wider communities.

Having said that, this time of year is my favourite – with the changing colours of my valley, tups going into ewes in anticipation and, of course, several local fatstock shows leading up to Christmas.

However, the term “fat” always makes me slightly uncomfortable, and I prefer “prime” when describing livestock ready for the table.

This is because in my view, the public don’t want to buy fat, they want meat.

Of course fat coverage is important for flavour, moistness and so on, and there are some excellent projects in Wales such as Beef Q researching this important factor.

However, how many times do people say, “I don’t like lamb, it’s too fatty”? As an industry, how we celebrate our products is important, but we still need to remember that the primestock shows are a shop window.

The public probably doesn’t take too much interest in the shows, but will pick up on the language used on the winner’s card in the butcher’s window and write-ups in local newspapers.

In late November, we conceded to the weather and housed the cattle.

We have also started a project in partnership with the Dee Valley Trust to fence off the main river that runs through our farm.

The river restoration project is to improve water quality and hopefully increase the salmon numbers, which have decreased over recent years.

Though I’m still slightly dubious about its success, anything that we can do so my daughter gets to see spawning salmon, as I did as a youngster, will be a success.