Farmer's lamb shearing theory put to the test

  • 07/03/2014

Meat company Alliance is putting an old farm theory to the test - do shorn lambs grow faster than woolly ones?

Some farmers shear their lambs to try and fatten them up.

Up to 40,000 lambs at Southland's Mt Linton Station are finished on-site each year, a process that includes shifting them all through the shearing sheds.

"There's a common belief that shorn lambs grow faster than woolly lambs. So by removing the wool off a lamb, it stimulates them to eat more, and therefore increases their growth rate," says Alliance group technical officer Hayden Peter.

That's what David Bielski heard from his dad and most other farmers over the years, but he's never been convinced.

"They always say, 'Oh take the wool off and they'll grow really well.' And I used to do that and never really found there was much difference," he says.

So the Alliance Group has selected five farms to take part in the country's first comprehensive study of the theory.

Lambs are divided into four groups. One mob are belly-crutched, and another fully shorn. Others are brought in off-pasture, and the final group left in the paddock with their fleece intact.

The study of the four mobs will assess whether the extra cost of shearing the lambs and holding them overnight adds up financially.

"This year might pay if there was an increase in live-weight gain by shearing them because the price of wool has gone up a bit," says Mr Bielski.

The extra cost in shearing lambs will be weighed up against sending meatier animals to the freezing works sooner.

"If the lamb grows faster it can go off to processing earlier, so therefore the farmer will make more money," says Mr Peter.

The results of the trial are expected in time for the new lambing season.

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source: newshub archive