Lamb definition change momentous for industry

A change in the definition of lamb has been officially endorsed by Sheepmeat Council of Australia (now known as Sheep Producers Australia), following significant industry feedback, with WAFarmers applauding the decision.

There was wide industry support for the change, with 83 per cent of respondents voting in favour during the nine-week national consultation period. Once the new definition is adopted, a lamb will be classified as ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.    

WAFarmers Livestock Section President David Slade said the decision would benefit lamb producers by allowing a longer period in which to sell lambs that would previously have been discounted once the permanent teeth had erupted.

“This change was the result of an initiative which commenced in 2003 by the then-WAFarmers Meat Council in conjunction with David Pethick, WAMMCO, V&V Walsh and Fletchers International,” Mr Slade said.

“The new definition will level the international market playing field for Australia, which will have the same competitive advantage as New Zealand once the definition is implemented.

“The previous definition was too restrictive, with a percentage of lambs discounted by approximately $50 to $60 per head on arrival at the abattoir due to falling outside the lamb category, resulting in significant losses to farmers and the industry supply chain.

“We commend the science behind this to ensure there will be no impacts on meat quality, and that this change will be of immense benefit to WA lamb producers. 

“To ensure lamb brand integrity, a robust and workable regulatory framework will be collaboratively developed between the Australian Meat Industry Council and Sheep Producers Australia, and WAFarmers hopes this progresses quickly.”

Mr Slade said the change was long overdue.

“For over a decade, WAFarmers has continued to advocate for a change to the definition, with a particularly strong submission sent through last year being a significant turning point for discussions,” Mr Slade said.

“The evidence was there and the people have spoken, so I applaud the efforts of everyone involved in getting this decision across the line, and thank Sheep Producers Australia for listening to public sentiment and recognising the need for an update definition.”

WAFarmers Livestock Council member and former Sheepmeat Council of Australia President Jeff Murray welcomed the changes to the national policy, given the time spent on achieving this outcome. 


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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