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Dubious Age Test on Sheep should be Scrapped

May 27, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

Method employed by meat processors and Department of Agriculture officials to determine age as a flawed science.
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has hit out at the practice of classifying hoggets as ewes for the purposes of paying out a lower price. Mr Brooks described the method employed by meat processors and Department of Agriculture officials to determine age as “a flawed science.”

Continuing, Mr Brooks said

“This dubious method of determining age is happening where hoggets’ mouths are being examined and those animals found with breaking teeth are classified as ewes. The process of emerging teeth can take place at any stage between 11 to 18 months depending on a variety of factors. It cannot and should not be used to conclusively determine the age of a hogget.”

“Payments made by processors at a lower rate than a hogget rate can lead to a price reduction of up to €1.50/kg, so a typical hogget of 24kgs is downgraded by up to €30 per head. The reality is that one hogget is much the same as another when it comes to quality of meat and no Department inspector can argue that they are 100% spot on in determining age.”

Concluding, Mr Brooks said

“It is an arbitrary downgrading of sheep which results in big gains for the processor and more losses for the sheep farmer. It is not based on scientific precision and must be ended.”

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