Australia's new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from July 1 this year with legislative changes this week registered by the Australian Government.
The move means Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb with the definition matching our competitors in export legislation.
The new definition is 'young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear'.
Effectively, sheep will be able to be sold as a lamb even if the animal has permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth have not begun to wear.
This definition is consistent with New Zealand, removing the unfair advantage NZ producers have had over Australian producers.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said it makes sense to have the same definition as our competitors.
"Why would we hand the Kiwis an unfair advantage?" Mr Littleproud said.
"This is a simple, common sense change which will help our farmers."
In Australia, lamb had previously been considered to have grown into the less lucrative 'hogget' or mutton as soon as incisor teeth were visible.
Mr Littleproud said it brings clarity to the definition - growers will now clearly see when a lamb becomes a sheep, when there is visible wear on the incisors.
Sheep Producers Australia policy manager Stephen Crisp thanked Mr Littleproud for expediting the change, saying it was an important milestone in the development of the Australian lamb industry.
"The new definition gives Australian producers greater certainty and a definitive signal to make moves to market their lambs," Mr Crisp said.
"With these changes approved prior to the approaching federal election, the industry is on track for the commencement date of July 1.
"State regulations in NSW and Western Australia still need to be aligned, but the relevant authorities have indicated this will occur before the target changeover date."
For the change to take effect, various federal and state legislation and regulations needed amendment with the new definition, which has been underway since the start of the year.
The process for checking whether lambs comply with the new definition will be via a visual inspection - the same process used to verify lambs against the current definition.
The change to the definition was first announced by Sheep Producers Australia in March 2018, following extensive consultation with producers and other industry stakeholders.
The change has been endorsed by the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee.
The new export definition is now in the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005 and matches New Zealand's and Australia's own new AUS-MEAT definition.