Better communication in lamb supply chain does bring tangible benefits

BETTER COMMUNICATION in the lamb supply chain can help producers make better breeding decisions, increase the proportion of lambs meeting market requirements and improve flock profitability, a two-year DEFRA-funded project reveals.

The project is supported by the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC), the Suffolk, Texel and Charollais Sheep Societies, Rose County Foods and JS Sainsbury.

Farm trials have shown the use of recorded rams with superior breeding potential can increase the profitability of commercial flocks by as much as £3 per lamb. It is understood that to achieve this producers must understand their own breeding goal to select the right ram for their system using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). This can be enhanced by analysing the data returned to them by their abattoir.

Samuel Boon, from MLC's Signet Breeding Services, said: "The project has demonstrated that UK sheep breeding programmes are generating breeding stock whose offspring meet the needs of commercial sheep producers and the wider lamb supply chain."

By evaluating carcase data, producers can make immediate adjustments to management and long-term decisions with regard to breeding resulting in greater financial returns, as well as improving the quality of lamb presented to the consumer. Changes in the way carcase data is reported back to producers include identifying carcase data for individual animals, making electronic copies of results, reports on batch variation and reports ranking flock performance against other producers.

Stan Ayrton, Procurement Manager at Rose County Foods, said the value of using recorded sires had been a revelation and encouraged producers to take the opportunity of buying recorded rams wherever they could.