3 Apr 2012

Farmers getting better at producing meatier lambs

3:30 pm on 3 April 2012

Initial results from a large-scale meat testing programme show New Zealand farmers are getting better at producing the sorts of lambs overseas customers are looking for.

The testing programme is part of the Farm IQ project, a joint industry government-funded project that aims to turn the red meat industry's traditional production-led approach into one that is market-led and focused on consumer needs.

The final run of lambs in the meat testing programme is being processed on Tuesday at Silver Fern's Takapau plant in central Hawke's Bay.

In total, the meat from 5000 lambs will be tested this season, measuring qualities such as tenderness, colour, taste and yield, or the percentage of saleable meat on the carcass.

The lambs are from Primera and Lamb Supreme rams developed in breeding programmes now run by Focus Genetics.

Daniel Absolom, from Focus Genetics, says the testing shows meat yield and quality is improving.

A central Hawke's Bay farmer involved in the Farm IQ project, Sam Morrah, says the change of approach is making a difference.

He supplies lambs through Silver Fern to the Marks and Spencer supermarket chain in the United Kingdom.

He says he has had great yields from his Primera lambs this season and nearly all have made the top grade.

Mr Morrah says on average, his lambs are reaching at least one and a half kilos more in carcass weight than they were previously.