Welsh sheep farmers are meeting the mark and keeping it lean as the latest lamb carcase classification results show meat is being produced to the highest market specification.
The statistics released by Welsh processors for 2018 show a positive performance by the industry.
This includes significant reductions in the numbers of animals which were over-fat, and continued increases in the numbers which hit the highest desired conformation.
During processing, lambs are graded according to the EUROP classification grid, which denotes whether animals meet the correct conformation and fat coverage.
More than two-thirds (68.1%) of all lambs from Welsh abattoirs hit the sought-after 2 or 3L fat grades, up from 64.5% the previous year.
In terms of conformation, 40.2% fell into the highest ‘E’ or ‘U’ classes (up from 37.9% in 2017) with only 11.2% classified in the lower ‘O’ or ‘P’ ranges.
According to Glesni Phillips, Data Analyst at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), there are a range of factors behind the positive results.
“The prevalence of carcases with less fat coverage could be partly due to producers presenting their lambs earlier following the dry summer weather conditions of 2018 and limited availability of forage,” said Ms Philipps.
“However, the figures on both fat and conformation also show that Welsh farmers are focusing on what the modern consumer requires and adapting their practices accordingly.”
Different outlets, such as supermarkets, export and catering, may require different types of lambs.
In order to achieve the highest return, farmers will ensure that the lambs sold are the correct type for those markets.
She added: “Overall, the trend over several years has been for more lambs to achieve the higher grades, which reflects increased use of rams and ewes with superior genetics for conformation traits.”