”As producers you couldn’t help but be excited about the journey of the Australian lamb industry over the past two and half to three decades,” Bruce Hancock, of the Sheep CRC based at the University of Adelaide, told the 2017 Sheep Forum at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Wagga Wagga.
Mr Hancock coordinates the Australian Lamb Supply Chain Group who work nationally and collaboratively building capacity in the lamb industry.
“I would like you to seek feedback on a couple of new aspects of the lamb industry being lean meat yield percentage and eating quality, as new objective carcase measurement evolves” he said.
“Research shows as the lambs get heavier and older we actually know that lean meat yield percentage will decrease.
“When coupled to the actual profit of those carcases there is quite a sweet spot in the 22-26kg range giving 57 percent lean meat yield.”
Mr Hancock pointed out specification grids will start to change shape as processors analyse their throughput and focus on the more profitable sheep to purchase.
Further, he noted producers are aware of the increased cost in terms of significantly greater amounts of feed needed to finish a lamb with fat score four than a fat score two.
“Yet we still have plenty of lambs coming through with fat score five or six,” he said.
“This shows we are still placing plenty of fat on our animals and whether that be through the genetics, but through the production systems.”
The industry is definitely after more muscle and not fat, Mr Hancock told the assembly and he thought if the industry can get the mix in balance there will be significant gains.
“Genetically the lamb industry has made great gains and there are some trends heading in the right area,” he said.
“Carcase weight is trending up year on year and we are increasing lean meat yield percentage but we need to keep an eye on eating quality..”