|dc.description.abstract||Over the last three seasons there has been a
gradual increase in average carcass weight of export
lambs slaughtered (Table 1).
Favourable environmental and, to a certain extent,
economic conditions have enabled and encouraged
producers to keep lambs on to heavier weights. Unfortunately,
there has been a gradual increase in overfat
lambs (the F grade) as weights have risen. Cullwick
(1980) states that there is a global need for lean
well muscled carcasses of good conformation and urges
reassessment of lamb production practices to achieve
Producers should benefit from the sales of
increased quantities of lean heavier lamb. As most costs
of handling lamb from the farm gate to point of load out
from a meat processing plant are directly related to the
number of carcasses handled and not to the weight of
meat produced, then it follows that the heavier the
carcass the lower the cost per kilogram of processing
(Frazer, 1972). In theory, this should improve the
producers' portion of the export lamb price.
Export companies too, should receive financial
gain from an increase in average carcass weights as
long as they can establish the market demand for the
larger joints. An increase in the production of heavier
weight carcasses would tend to spread the seasonal pattern of kill by reducing the numbers slaughtered in
the peak period (Frazer, 1972), as farmers delayed the
off take time of their lambs. The spread of kill could
therefore both lower killing charges and ease the labour
problems specific to extreme seasonal work. There
would also be a higher yield of saleable offals
obtained (Frazer, 1972). However, the greatest benefit
to the exporters is in the area of further processing.
This is seen by many as the panacea to reducing overseas
freight charges. Such charges are an increasing proportion
of marketing costs (Chudleigh, 1980). By exporting
a variety of cuts of meat specific to certain markets
the quantity of saleable meat per container load is
increased. Further processing will also provide
employment within New Zealand so is viewed nationally
as a worthwhile venture (Hilgendorf, 1981).
However, the efficiency of a further processing
plant cannot be maximized if the majority of carcasses
are less than 15 kg (Harwood, pers. comm., 1981).
Small carcasses are not only inefficient in terms
of costs per kilogram of processing but they are unable
to provide a variety of marketable cuts, e.g. leg
steaks, because of their size. Overfat carcasses
are costly to process further so are not required.
The production of heavy, lean lambs therefore
would appear to benefit farmers, exporters and the New Zealand economy. However, the Meat Exporters'
Schedule system for buying lambs can be and has been
criticised for a number of years because of its inability
to provide financial incentive to producers to increase
their average lamb weights (Herlihy, 1970; Kirton,
1979; Cullwick, 1980). Although a number of alterations
in both the calculation of costs and the carcass
grades has occurred (NZMPB, 1979) the basic saw-tooth
structure of the system remains.
This paper aims to discuss the effect of the
present system on producer returns from both individual
animals and from drafts of animals of different carcass
weights. The measurement of the extent to which the
saw tooth structure affects producer returns and,
therefore, provides disincentive to increase carcass
weights can then be used as a basis on which to judge
Alternative schedule systems should be aimed
at removing some of the anomalies of the present system
without introducing any greater amount of complexity
into it. They should also aim to provide an effective
guideline of market desires in the long term and hence
enable producers to plan accordingly; for example, by
selecting for heavier, leaner types of sheep.
Although alternative systems might reduce
distortions in per head prices of lambs and aim to
give a more concise indication of market demand, there
are other aspects of the lamb production system that will still limit the increase of carcass weights.
Along with technical barriers to certain producers,
there is the risk and uncertainty inherent in the
system that is a result of the variation present in
both drafting and grading techniques.
It is hoped that this paper will help create
a better understanding of the present system by
producers and others in the industry and will promote
some further discussion on alternatives that might
be better employed in the system.||en