Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Glammies, the best tasting lamb in the country or is it?

The Glammies, yes the supposed best tasting lamb in New Zealand competition.  This competition has annoyed me for year or two now as it is competition whereby only top yeilding lines of lambs make it to the final, where it is tasted tested for the first time.

Lines of 20 plus  lambs are killed through Alliance by those who wish to enter.   These lambs are subjected to a coupler tests, the principle one being yeild.   12 or 14 lines of lamb, I think, make it to the final in 3 or 4 categories.  It is only these finalists that are actually subjected to a taste test. 

It is my understanding that it is only the top yeilding lines that make the final, which has been held at the Wanaka show.  Accordingly it is a competition principally about the yeild capability of the lamb, the actual taste is essentially an "aftertaste" if you get my meaning.

I appreciate that yeild is important, but I also know from anecdotal evidence as a breeder of rams and as a finisher of lambs and from my discussions with high quantity lamb finishers, that those very high yeilding lambs are often very slow growers.

It just so happens that the exceptionally high yeilding lambs tend to be texels or texel cross, (who tend to be dominating the glammies as they yeild very well), are the same high yeilding lambs that a lot of farmers will tell you, that if you get them to the works off mum, they are great, but if not, they are not so cool, because they are very slow growing and accordingly take ages to hit the target kill weight.

This is not a dig at Texels, it is a frustration with our industry, these glammies are promoted as the bees knees, but are they really in light of how the competition is run, given there is my opinion and others, a strong correlation between very high meat yeild and slow growth, is this really the type of lamb we want to be encourage farmers to supply to our meat processers.

Those farmers who have a very short time frame to get their lambs to the works, need lambs that grow and mature very quickly and hit that target weight as fast as you can.  Even those farmers who don't have the same pressures will probably find that they make a lot more money from lambs that say hit the target weight two weeks quicker than super yeilding lamb, logically you can turn over more lambs, less drench, less grass etc required as input to finish that lamb.

Finally ask any farmer that has been around for a 1000 years and they will tell you, (9 times out of 10) that the best tasting lamb or mutton is a southdown (or southdown cross) OR a fat merino, probably because very fine wool is generally associated with fine texture in meat.   So what is the point of mentioning this, if you want to expand your market and encourage more people to buy it, wouldn't you get people to try what is in fact the best tasting lamb and not some high yeilding lamb that is adjudged the best tasting of the high yeilding finalist lambs.   But hey what would I know I am just a dumb farmer!!!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hogget lambing articles in Rural News and local High Country herald

I have recently read a coupler articles in Rural News and our local High Country Herald re hogget lambing regarding a professor  from and a study from Massey University. 

I was somewhat concerned about some of the claims in there, including interalia a claim for example that a hogget lambed as opposed to one that has not, has only a 5kg difference in body weight as a 2th, no affect on long term longevity etc. 

I am concerned about the claims being made, because if it is based on a Massey study that started around 5 years ago, then it is my understanding that this trial mated a mob of ewe hoggets to rams, and those that got in lamb became one trial mob, and those that did not get in lamb became the control mob as a comparison.

For those of us who do mate ewe hoggets, I think we are fully aware that 80 to 90% of our bigger and better ewe hoggets, or something around that figure, get in lamb, while the majority of the balance who don't get in lamb are the smaller and often poorer quality hoggets.

So what is the significance of this, well quite clearly if you compare those that got in lamb with those that didn't, over their life time, then its a totally meaningless comparison: as you are comparing on average bigger better quality hoggets with inferior poorer quality hoggets.  

To ensure such a trial was of value and produced results of merit, a mob of hoggets would need to be randomly drafted in half, with one mob being mated and one not mated or covered with teasers, then those in lamb  are then compared with a random mob of the not mated, or better still with those who were covered by teasers with the other mob.  Just a basic premise one must adhere to end up with reliable statistics. 

Accordingly for example any claim that ewe hogget mated is only 5kg lighter as a 2th than had she not been mated based on a flawed trial, if it is based on the trial as I understand that it is, then  quite simply  any conclusions drawn from it are probably crap!