Breeding stock crucial for top quality product
PRODUCING a brand is one thing, but the quality of the product has to live up to the image.
Cotswold Sheep Group consultant Alastair Bird says producers need to pay attention to a number of areas to ensure a quality lamb carcass killing out between 16-21kg and R and E grades for conformation and at least 3L for leanness.
Breeding stock matters most. He suggests using high index terminal sires on good quality mothers, such as North Country Mules or Welsh Mules. "The dam wants to milk well and give lambs a good start."
But the breed of sire is probably less important than tup quality. "All our main terminal sires perform well on a Mule ewe and each have their place in the market place."
Its also important to have nutrition and health programmes in place. Feeding correctly up to lambing is essential for good results and early lamb growth. And its worth consulting with your vet to ensure a suitable health programme is in place, he adds.
While ewe feeding up to lambing is important, Mr Bird says producers turning ewes and lambs out to grass should ensure grass management is adequate. "It wants to be the right height and that means about 6cm high." Lambs will not eat long grass, he adds.
When creep feeding lambs outside on pasture, he suggests considering a home-mix compound of barley, sugar beet pulp and soya.
At finishing, selection must not be overlooked, he says. "Go through lambs on a regular basis and know the specification and weight range of the market you are producing for."
Lamb quality must live up to the brand image, says Alistair Bird.