English sheep farmers currently market around 8.5 million lambs a year, producing 170,000 tonnes of sheep meat for domestic consumption and export.The way to maximise financial returns is to produce and sell the type of sheep buyers really want and are willing to pay the most money for.Do not produce a batch of lambs then try and find a customer for them. It is far better to identify a potential market first (or several), then produce animals to suit their specific requirements. The key is to sell them when they are ready. Do not wait for that ‘special’ date when historically the first draw was made. Improvements in breeding and rations have led to animals being ready earlier than in the past.While there are many market specifications for lamb including maximum and minimum weight bands, more than 80% of meat buyers are looking for animals that classify as R3L.While weight is obviously important, sending animals of the right conformation and fat score is just as vital. Frequent, careful handling of the lambs is essential to ensure each animal has reached its full potential and target specification.The key issues producers face when marketing prime lambs are covered in this updated manual. Those that can embrace and act on all these areas will be rewarded with good returns.
(EBLEX exists to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English lamb and beef sectors. It is funded by a statutory check-off paid on all beef and sheep animals slaughtered in or live animals exported from England.)