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Count down on for new Australian lamb definition

24 June 2019

Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) and the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) are reminding producers there is only one week to go until the new definition for Australian lamb takes effect.

The new definition will start on Monday, 1 July 2019 and is:

‘An ovine animal that:

(a) is under 12 months of age; or

(b) does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.

A permanent incisor is considered ‘in wear’ if:

– it touches the upper pad when the sheep’s mouth is closed

– it is above the height of the lamb’s milk teeth either side of the permanent incisors.

SPA has been working with Meat & Livestock Australia on the development of resources to provide guidance to producers on what the change means in practice and how to apply the new definition. These resources are available at

SPA President Chris Mirams encouraged producers to be proactive and consider whether any adjustments may be required to their on-farm management practices.

“The extra time once lambs break their permanent incisors is, on average, only 27 days, which is important for producers to know, to enable any adjustments to their on-farm management to occur,” Mr Mirams said.

“For producers, the change means having increased confidence to finish their lambs in the best condition possible. For consumers, research has shown it will not have any discernible difference in eating quality in the small number of lambs that will be sold a few weeks older.”

AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson said this is a win for all participants in the lamb production supply chain.

“Australian lamb producers will now have a clear physical signal to inform their selling decision and will create markets for unfinished lambs that buyers have previously been reticent to purchase for fear of the lambs crossing the threshold to hogget or mutton,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“Australian processors will have access to lambs at the crossover period between new season lambs and those from the previous season and will have confidence that producers were able to finish those lambs to a better quality without concern that they will miss the lamb specification.

“Retailers and consumers can expect to see an improved supply of lamb in store as producers confidently carry lambs through winter. There are benefits all through the supply chain.”

The proposed change to the lamb definition will also bring Australia into line with our largest international competitor, New Zealand.

About AMIC (Australian Meat Industry Council)

AMIC is the only industry association representing the $21 billion Australian red meat manufacturing industry.  Its members include processors, smallgoods manufacturers and independent butchers.

AMIC works on behalf of its members to effect change in areas that impact their businesses including energy efficiency; food regulation; market access; animal welfare; and access to labour.

About SPA (Sheep Producers Australia)

Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) is the peak industry organisation for sheep and lamb producers. It works to enhance the industry’s productivity, profitability and sustainability by representing all producers to industry decision-makers and stakeholders.

Sheep Producers Australia is the voice on issues that affect sheep production businesses. SPA does this through advocating for better business outcomes, monitoring investment of producer levies and improving information flow up and down the value chain.

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