Welsh abattoirs reveal improvements in carcase conformation

Recent carcase classification results from Welsh abattoirs have shown that conformation standards increased for 2015, according to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). 

Conformation class relates to the visual appraisal of shape, regarding carcase blockiness and development of muscle in the hind quarters.

Figures from HCC stated that over 10% of the lamb carcases classified achieved a conformation of ‘E’ (excellent) – the highest possible grade on the current EUROP classification scheme. This is almost double the number that it reached four years ago. There was also an increase in the ‘U’ (very good) and reductions in the lower O (fair) and P (poor) classes.

This is mainly due to an increased use of rams and ewes with superior genetics for conformation rates, said John Richards, industry information executive at HCC.

“These results show that, as producers, we can change the genetic make-up of our flocks in a relatively short period of time. The use of terminal sires has improved genetic traits for conformation over the last decade, and we are now seeing the results of this.”

HCC highlighted that while these results were encouraging, farmers selecting lambs for slaughter should principally be looking for the market’s requirements and desired specification.

It was also revealed that there was a rise in the number of slightly over-finished lambs being marketed. It is possible that this is a result of farmers trying to maximise carcase weight in light of the subdued prices last year.

“Understanding a market’s required specification should be a key target for every farmer,” added Richards. “Different outlets such as supermarkets, export and catering may, and do, require different types of lambs. In order to achieve the highest return, farmers should ensure the lambs sold are the correct type of those markets.

“Over the coming weeks, many farmers across Wales will be selecting their first lambs of the season. Before doing this we would encourage them to select lambs based on the weight and finish that meet their market requirements.”

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