Co-operation sought in sheepmeats

03 Dec, 1999 04:01 AM
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AUSTRALIAN sheepmeat industry sectors had to work more closely together and be more versatile and efficient to survive, according to Harden Abattoir general manager Glen Krebs, speaking at the Romilly Hills field day last week Mr Krebs said lamb was "getting its butt kicked" in the market place by other proteins rather than by competition within the industry. "The other abattoirs are not the competition, it's the other sources of protein that is the competition," he said. Mr Krebs, who is from America, said yearly consumption of lamb in the US was at 0.5 kilogram per capita consumption compared with 30kg for chicken. "We have got to look at our product, we have got to get it more exciting and more efficient," he said. Mr Krebs said research now being done into lamb feed efficiency was an example of the sort of things that needed to be done within the lamb industry. He said management practices would also have to change and three lambings a year could need to be implemented in WA to stop the industry being lost to other commodities. "We also need to improve our marketing and be susceptible to change," he said. Mr Krebs said larger, consistently sized carcases falling within required scores were more profitable for processors to slaughter and that discounting for sheep falling outside the parameters was certain. This was an area where there could be an increased role for specialist agents, using equipment such as VIAscan, to help farmers be more accurate when sending off their lambs. "You can't pick them by eye," he said. Nevertheless, he said, processors had to be careful how they implemented the discounting or it could turn farmers away from producing lamb. Mr Krebs said that, in his role as a processor, he always looked for the worst lambs in a pen and also kept an eye on where the top genetics were going at ram sales. He said Superior Farms, a vertically integrated lamb operation in the US, had invested in the Harden Abattoir because they were running out of lamb in the US, with sheep numbers there down to 6.8 million. "We needed another country to get supplies from," he said. The Superior Farms and Harden Abattoir operate under the Country Meadow Austral America Brand.

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