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New Entrants To Farming: Hoof to Hook (Lanark Group)

22 September 2017

The Lanark group met at the end of September to develop business planning skills and improve efficiency within the sheep enterprise by following prime lambs from ‘Hoof to Hook’.

The group visited Carstair’s Mains Farm by kind permission of Andrew Baillie who currently runs a flock of 650 ewes and finishes around 600 lambs per year from grass after replacements and tup hoggs have been selected.

Robert Paterson, lamb procurement specialist for Farmstock discussed the ‘EUROP’ lamb grading system before heading to the sheep shed for a practical session on grading live lambs. The group were shown how to assess conformation and fat cover and 10 live lambs were graded by the group to follow through to the hook at Scotbeef two days later.

Following a tour of the abattoir which included the cattle kill line in operation the group saw Andrew’s 10 lamb carcasses. The carcasses ranged from R to E grades for conformation and 1 to 3H for fat cover for demonstration purposes. Bill MacKinnon, Head of Procurement explained the positive and negative points in terms of conformation, fat cover the penalties involved in producing out of spec lambs and what processors are looking for.

Key take home messages included:

  • Finishing lambs as quickly as possible remains key to profitability, combined with knowing the market and selling lambs in the desired
  • Overfat lambs incur penalties for additional time taken to trim unwanted
  • Weight and visual appraisal are general guides to an animals readiness for market, however to ensure accurate selection, handling the live animal is
  • It is important to note daily live weight gain (DLWG) to ensure lambs are If a lamb has a poor DLWG keeping it longer may have no impact on live weight.
  • The kill out percentage for lambs weaned off milk can drop by 5% from 49-51% to around 47%. Lambs on wet, poor grass can drop further to 43%

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