Change lamb definition to put money back in farmers’ pockets; secure markets

Australian lamb producers are being urged to have their say on whether the Australian definition of a lamb should be changed to that of New Zealand, with a national consultation period now open.

At present, the Australian AusMeat definition of a lamb is ‘a female, castrated or entire male up to 12 months of age with no erupted permanent incisor teeth’, whereas the New Zealand’s definition is ‘sheep are classified as lamb where the two permanent teeth may have erupted but they are not in wear’. A permanent incisor is defined as ‘a new incisor that has broken (erupted) through the gum surface’.

WAFarmers Livestock Executive Officer Kim Haywood said the Australian definition can cause issues across the supply chain.

“Sheep producers can mouth sheep in the yards only to find a percentage of lambs are discounted by approximately $50 to $60 per head on arrival at the abattoir because their teeth have erupted,” Ms Haywood said.

“Our processors are losing out as they struggle to source enough lamb to meet growing orders for lamb domestically and internationally.

“Earlier this year, WAFarmers put forward a strong submission to Sheepmeat Council of Australia, describing the anti-competitive nature of the current Australian definition and demonstrated the need to amend the definition to reflect that of New Zealand by the end of 2017.   

“As a result of this submission, along with other advocacy work in this space, a national consultation period has been triggered; SCA will consult with producers and supply chain stakeholders to determine whether the definition should be changed.

“WAFarmers has been pushing this issue for nearly a decade, so we implore producers across the state and the country as a whole to recognise the need for an updated definition so that we can secure our markets and put more money back into producers’ pockets.”

To have your say, you can complete a detailed submission and send it to [email protected] or you can complete a short online survey:

The survey closes on Wednesday 29 November.


All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].


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