Heavy Lambs – the year so far

There have been more old season lambs this year compared to last, and they have been heavier.

The number of finished old season lambs sold at auction rose by 4.4% in the period from January up until the end of May 2017, compared to last year, and the number of them being classified as heavier than the SQQ rose by 12% year on year.

The analysis below uses data collected from auction markets in England, Wales and Scotland and excludes not only numbers of finished ewes and rams, but also old season lambs presented at auction after May. In this way it is possible to describe how the season developed for clean sheep, and how their characteristics changed throughout the year.

Pasture conditions through the year June 2016 to May 2017 led to lambs finishing more slowly than the year before, producing fewer heavy lambs at the beginning of the season, and a higher share amongst those carried over as old season lambs into 2017. A smaller proportion of new season lambs fell outside SQQ weight band at the beginning of the year, than the year before.

This phenomenon is largely explained by lower numbers of heavy lambs being around in those months compared with the previous year; with approximately a third fewer lambs overall being classed as heavier than the liveweight SQQ in the period June to September. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a greater number of heavier lambs started to appear later in the season, after Christmas as old season lambs.

So although the total number of lambs finished throughout the year 2016/17 was higher than the year before, and the monthly profile of their delivery was quite similar, the weight bands in which they were classified showed much more variation.



White meat more popular than red meat for the first time

Britain has a new favourite meat – and it’s partly down to traditional meals falling out of fashion and the rise of eating alone.

The amount of chicken and other white meat consumed by the average Brit has overtaken red meat for the very first time.

Britons ate 529 million kilograms of fresh poultry last year, compared to 511 million kilogrammes of red meat, according to analysis firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The analysts said that it’s partly down to classic “meat and two veg” meals falling out of fashion, and the ease in which the likes of chicken and turkey can be used in creating simple meals for one.

The firm said nearly half of all home-cooked meals are dishes like pasta and stir-fry, which lend themselves to having chicken as a key ingredient.

Chicken is also generally available in smaller sizes meaning it’s easier to buy enough to make a meal for one.

Some studies have suggested that as many as 43% of meals are consumed alone, up from 33% in 1980.

full story – Independent


‘Farmers should hit back at unjustified, lower factory prices’

Ireland – The lower prices given by meat factories this week are not reflective of the strong market sentiment that continues in the UK and EU beef markets, the IFA’s (Irish Farmers’ Association’s) National Livestock Committee Chairman, Angus Woods, said recently.

Woods noted that supplies of prime beef cattle in Britain are very tight, down almost 10% on last week. Because of this, prices have continued to strengthen – increasing by over 6c/kg during the week.

The livestock committee chairman said: “The lighter carcase weights this year, the strong live export trade to international markets and the increased kill to-date – along with the drop in slaughterings in Britain – all contribute to less beef being available and provide very favourable market conditions for our beef.”

Woods said there is evidently no market basis for pressure on cattle prices at present and this move by the Irish factories to pull quotes and talk down the trade is an attempt to force out very tight supplies of prime cattle by undermining confidence.

read the full story  – agriland

Sylvester Phelan

Prince Charles’ local butcher wins approval

A Towy Valley family-run butchery business has shown that red meat from Wales is fit for a King – or a future King at least.

Mathews Butchers, based in Llandovery, have been granted a Royal Warrant to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

The family has been supplying HRH The Prince of Wales with locally produced red meat and other produce for eight years at his Llwynywermod residence near Myddfai, and the Prince even paid a personal visit to the shop during that time.

This special delivery of marvellous meat over a number of years meant that they qualified for the royal status which is a mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, or HRH The Prince of Wales.

Dai Mathews has worked as a butcher for nearly 40 years and set up the business in Llandovery with wife Marcia and sons Dewi and Rhys.

He said: “It is a real honour for us to supply Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef and pork from Wales to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

“We normally deliver up to Prince Charles’, or one of his chefs will call in.

“We are thrilled to be recognised for our top quality produce and be Royal Warrant Holders! As far as we know there are only 16 warrant holders in Wales with us being the only butcher.

“There are only just over 800 Royal Warrant Holders in the UK so it is a great privilege to receive this honour which can only be earned and not bought.”

full story – South Wales Guardian

Daniel Laurie

‘Stop cow terrorism’: PM Modi finally speaks out

Modi finally speaks out against lynchings of beef eaters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on Thursday and delivered a speech condemning a recent spate of lynchings in India. Hours later, a news alert announced that yet another man had been killed by a mob for carrying beef.

This was the second beef-related lynching in a week, and one of many since Modi came to power in 2014. His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has strong links to a number of far-right Hindu organisations, has been widely criticised for allowing such attacks to continue with little impunity. The violence happens in the name of protecting cows, considered sacred by Hindus.

Taking the podium in Ahmadabad on Thursday, Modi said, “Today, when I hear that someone is killed in the name of a cow – whether he is innocent or guilty is something the law will decide – no person has the right to take the law into his own hands. I appeal to the people of the country, violence is not a solution to the problems.”

Modi’s speech intertwined criticism of vigilantism with support for cow protection, including a retelling of a childhood memory of watching a cow cry after accidentally trampling a small child. It represented a rare condemnation of the extremist flanks of his party’s core support base, widely thought to be responsible for a vast number of lynchings in India, which often target Muslims.

Though such vigilante attacks happen frequently, Modi has spoken out against them only once before; in 2016 he blamed “antisocial elements” after seven lower caste Dalits were flogged for allegedly skinning a cow.

This time, he spoke in response to the escalation of lynchings in recent weeks, which prompted nationwide protests on Wednesday. Thousands of people gathered in over a dozen Indian cities, holding signs that read “Stop cow terrorism” and “Not in my name”.

The protests were organised after images of 16-year-old Junaid Khan, who was brutally killed in what appears to be an Islamophobic attack, circulated on social media. The death was particularly shocking because it happened during Eid, the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and a time of celebration for Muslims.

“When I heard about Junaid Khan’s incident, it shook me up,” said Rahul Roy, one of the organisers of the protest in New Delhi. “One after the other, news of lynchings had been coming in. In north India, there is a sense of impunity – that you can attack Muslims and get away with it. It is fairly clear that the state is not going to act.”

Full story – scmp.com

Meat wholesaler banned from directorships for seven years

A director of the firm which ran Boosbeck abattoir in North Yorkshire has been banned for seven years for failing to keep proper books and records.

Meat wholesaler Nahim Mohammed Banaras has been disqualified, from June 12, from acting as a company director or from managing, or in any way controlling, a limited company until 2024.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Middlesbrough-born Greg Clark, accepted the seven year disqualification after hearing how North East Meats Limited (NEM), which traded from the Boosbeck abattoir site, went into liquidation on August 20, 2015 owing £1,128,393.

An Insolvency Service investigation found that from at least March 12, 2014, Mr Banaras “failed to maintain, preserve and deliver up records that were adequate to explain the financial position of NEM.”

The Boosbeck slaughterhouse was the subject of a long-running campaign by villagers, who said the noise, smells and disruption it caused were intolerable.

The High Street site had operated as an abattoir in the past but had lain dormant for years until, in 2011, Middlesbrough firm Banaras Halal Meats revealed plans to reopen it.

It did reopen in 2013 but proved controversial from the outset.

Last month, the abattoir was demolished to make way for a 69-home housing scheme.

Explaining 43-year-old Mr Banaras’ directorship ban, The Insolvency Service said that without complete records, it was impossible to “determine the legitimacy of at least £195,476 of credit stated to have been granted to a connected company for the destruction of purchased livestock.”

Also, the service added, NEM’s books and records had no evidence to verify the destruction of at least 2,827 animals.

It was also impossible to determine the “legitimacy of management charges” paid by NEM to a connected company, totalling £450,000.

Mr Banaras did not dispute the matter of unfitness in the disqualification undertaking.

full story – gazettelive.co.uk

Dave Robson

Company Claims It Will Deliver Lab-grown Meats by 2018

Beef burgers grown in a lab could be hitting supermarket shelves as early as 2018.

That’s the bold statement from Hampton Creek, a San Francisco-based food company that produces mainly vegan condiments and cookie doughs. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company says they are working on growing cultured animal cells in the lab to turn into cruelty-free meat products, and the product could be ready as early as next year. If the rocky history of lab-grown meats is anything to judge by, however, they have a difficult road ahead of them.

Old Idea, New Tactics

The idea of lab-grown meats dates back decades, and the actual process of coaxing muscle cells to grow in the lab has been achieved since the 1970s. The prospect of actually bringing these artificial meats to the table resurfaced in 2006, when Vladimir Mironov, then at the Medical University of South Carolina, proposed plans for a coffee maker-like machine that would brew up personalized burgers and steaks from cell cultures and growth medium overnight.

Mark Post, a physiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, unveiled the first actual lab-grown burger in 2013 at a glitzy event in London. It cost $325,000 to produce (although he says costs have since come down), and, according to the tasters, was a bit on the bland side. Post has since formed a company, Mosa Meat, to refine the technology needed to bring costs down, and other groups, such as Memphis Meats, are pursuing a similar goal.

No Easy Task

The challenges they face are multifaceted. The most pressing concern at the moment is scale — while it’s been shown to be possible to grow a hamburger in the lab, that doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near producing them by the millions.

It currently takes massive amounts of cultured tissues to produce even one patty, meaning that both physical space and cost requirements far outweigh the returns of growing meat in a lab at the moment. Artificial meat also requires a scaffold to grow on, a structure that will ideally be edible for lab-grown meats and must be stretched, or “exercised” periodically to stimulate growth. And the lab beef grown so far can’t even claim to be cruelty-free yet, as it require fetal calf serum for sustenance.

Once those issues have been resolved, consumers will need to be convinced both that lab-grown meats are safe, and that they taste as good as the real thing. While taste may be subjective, a study released this year did indicate that over half of participants would be willing to give lab-grown meat a try, and about fifty percent would regularly pay more for the experience.

full story – discovermagazine.com

Nathaniel Scharping

Ireland: Spring lamb price down again

 THE one constant in business is that the price is dictated by the laws of supply and demand.

Right now in the sheep business it appears that market demand has dipped and this reduction is being passed back to processors in the form of reduced orders and reduced prices.

The processors in turn have been passing the price and demand reductions on to sheep farmers over the past month.

There does not appear to be a massive oversupply on the market, with figures from Bord Bia showing for the year to date supplies have reached 1.21 million head which is up 12pc or 126,000 on 2016.


Up to the first week of June, processors had been taking those extra sheep supplies with ease to the point that €6.00/kg was nearly the universal quote for spring lamb.

Yesterday the quoted factory prices are from 50-60c/kg below that high point of €5.40-5.50/kg, not including bonuses of 5-10c/kg.

In real terms that means your 20.5kg spring lamb carcase is worth between €10.25-€12.30 less than it was a month ago.

Several factory buyers with knowledge of the sales end stated UK lamb was becoming a problem. “I’m meeting it every­where I go on the continent,” one factory man stated.

full story – independent.ie

Martin Coughlan

sheep industry

Sheep discovery for Chinese delegation

Sheep and goat experts from China were given an insight into lamb production in Britain when they met the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The Chinese Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA) made a special visit to AHDB’s headquarters in Stoneleigh to learn about the country’s trends and advancements in science and genetics for the sheep sector.

It was part of a top level 12-day China Inward Mission which saw them visit farms, an auction market and the National Sheep Association’s Sheep South West event near Tiverton.

The 23 delegates were welcomed to Stoneleigh by AHDB’s Head of Exports Peter Hardwick who provided an overview of the organisation and the industry.

The group was told there are around 33 million sheep in the UK from more than 100 breeds in a great variety of environments on 70,000 farms. AHDB’s Head of Livestock Export Trade Development Jean-Pierre Garnier said the UK produces in the region of 300,000 tonnes of sheep meat – with around 110,000 tonnes exported every year. He also highlighted that 40% of sheep meat consumed in Europe comes from the UK.

The delegation was also told about the importance of innovation such as the ongoing research into grass genetics and grazing systems, ovine genetics, nutrition and the importance of sustainability.

A presentation by Emma Steele, a senior breeding advisor to Signet, told about helping identify animals with superior breeding potential and helping the industry to capitalise on genetic improvement.

Jean-Pierre said: “We are extremely flattered that the CAAA has chosen the UK to view current trends of lamb production. We certainly are at the cutting edge of scientific and technical developments for this vital British agricultural sector and had a lot to present.

“We are also pleased with the caliber of the participants and large size of the group which amounted to 23 people – among them some of the most influential in the Chinese sheep sector. They have visited some of the leading breeding farms in the UK and have seen some of the best sheep genetics in the world today.

“Importantly, although we already have strong relations with the CAAA particularly in the pig breeding sector, this visit will allow us to build further bridges with our Chinese counterparts on the sheep side. It will also help to showcase our industry at a crucial time when we aim to get market access for sheep meet products to China.”


Sainsbury’s switches to 100% British lamb

From next month, all of Sainsbury’s lamb products will be 100% sourced from British farms, after making the announcement last May.

The retailer said it will provide customers with ‘quality tender lamb’ throughout the 2017 season as well as bolstering their support for the British lamb industry.

 The supermarket have been working closely with their own Lamb Development Group, a network of nearly one thousand British farmers.

 “It’s reassuring to British lamb farmers to have the commitment and support of such a big player in the industry,” Hugh Darbishire, farmer and member of the group.

An early spring with plentiful sunshine has been a welcome start to the 2017 British lambing season.

The warmer and drier conditions have meant strong grass growth, which in turn brings forward the supply and availability of new season lamb.

Beth Hart, head of agriculture for Sainsbury’s, said the switch to sourcing 100% of their lamb products from British farms means they are ‘supporting our British farmers.’

full story – Farming UK