Lamb definition change on way

Zach RelphCountryman
The cutting of the first tooth is a defining moment for lambs in Australia.
Camera IconThe cutting of the first tooth is a defining moment for lambs in Australia. Credit: Bob Garnant

A peak sheep lobby group is hopeful its push to align Australia’s lamb definition with New Zealand, to net producers up to $50 extra a head, will be enforced in less than five months.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud threw his support behind updating the lamb definition last November but the change is still pending amendments to Federal and State legislation.

Despite years of campaigning for the change to be made, Sheep Producers Australia policy manager Stephen Crisp said the industry was hopeful the new definition would take effect from July 1.

“The sheep industry and Federal and State governments have been working hard to amend various Federal and State legislation,” he said.

Across the ditch, a lamb is a “young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear”.

In Australia, a lamb is deemed a hogget as soon as the animal loses a baby tooth which allows a permanent tooth to come through.

Producers have long argued to update the Australian definition, saying they are losing up to $50 per head, with a hogget garnering a substantially lower price than a lamb when sold for slaughter.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the McGowan Government was drafting amendments to the WA Meat Industry Authority Regulations to give effect to the new definition.

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