THOMAS Foods International national livestock manager Paul Leonard is urging producers and agents to take greater care when mouthing stock, due to increasing incidents of hoggets being sold as lamb in SA saleyards.
Mr Leonard said with processors able to track individual lambs from their Property Identification Code tags, if stock sold as lambs are found to have teeth breaking through, they would be downgraded and the producer retrospectively paid the hogget price.
“If an agent puts up 200 lambs, we expect them to be lambs, and pay accordingly,” he said.
“As an Aus-Meat A+ accredited export facility, we are required to grade any animal that has an eruption or in-wear permanent incisors as a hogget.”
Recently, Mr Leonard bought 150 lambs for $202 at a saleyard, of which 39 turned out to be hoggets.
“I thought they looked to be right on 12 months old, so I asked the agent to mouth them,” he said.
“They said they had been mouthed, but 39 turned out to be hoggets.
“When you’re paying $202, you expect to get lambs.”
Mr Leonard said with the price difference between lambs and hoggets ranging from $50 to $80, buying misrepresented stock for even one pen could add up to a $2500 cost.
He believes there has been some confusion in the industry about whether potential changes to lamb classification had already come in.
Sheep Producers Australia has put its support behind changing the definition of lambs to young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear.
While the change has draw widespread industry support is not expected to come in until next year.
SPA president Allan Piggott said the new definition would even the playing field against NZ in Australia’s export markets.
“The science and research has been done and we know it’s not going to impact markets or the quality of the product,” he said.
“What it would mean for producers is that they won’t have that cliff-face pricing that comes with going from lamb to mutton.”