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New financial year, new lamb definition

5 Feb 2019

Australia’s new definition of lamb is likely to take effect from 1 July 2019, pending amendments to federal and state legislation.

Sheep Producers Australia Acting CEO Stephen Crisp said there has been substantial progress in recent months, following the Australian Government announcing its support for the new definition in November 2018.

“The Australian sheep industry and federal and state governments have been working hard to amend various federal and state legislation and regulations with the new definition,” Mr Crisp said.

“All going well, those amendments will be passed in the first half of this year, with the new definition ready to take effect from 1 July 2019.”

The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.

This definition is consistent with New Zealand – removing the unfair advantage New Zealand producers have had over Australian producers.

“The current definition ‘A female, castrate or entire male that has 0 permanent incisor teeth’ means producers have no warning light about when a lamb stops being a lamb – the moment a permanent incisor erupts, that lamb is downgraded to hogget,” Mr Crisp said.

The new definition gives producers greater certainty and a definitive signal to make moves to market their lambs.

“Producers will have less than a month from the time of eruption to when permanent incisors are in wear – but at least they will have a signal and time to adjust to that signal.”

The process for checking whether lambs comply with the new definition will be via a visual inspection – the same process used to verify lambs against the current definition.

The change to the definition was first announced by Sheep Producers Australia in March 2018, following extensive consultation with producers and other industry stakeholders. The change has been endorsed by the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee. Current members of the committee include the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Australian Meat Industry Council, Sheep Producers Australia, Cattle Council of Australia, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, Australian Pork Limited and Australian supermarkets/independent retailers.

In coming months, relevant members of the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee will inform their respective red meat sectors of the changes and how they can apply the new definition.

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