May 1st 2015
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said that over-zealous Department officials are downgrading certain hoggets to ewe status in meat plants, with potential losses to farmers of up to €50-60/head.
“This is happening where hoggets’ mouths are being examined and those animals found breaking teeth are classified as ewes, even though this method of determining age is a flawed science,” said Mr. Brooks.
“The consequence is that the farmer is being paid ewe price rather than hogget price. This can be a loss of €2.50/kg so a typical hogget of 24kgs is downgraded by up to €60. This is an unacceptable loss to a farmer. As we never see any retail outlet selling mutton, is it a case that we we have lamb dressed as mutton when it comes to paying the farmer but mutton dressed as lamb on the supermarket shelves?”
Mr. Brooks went on to express frustration at this process. “The reality is that one hogget is much the same as another when it comes to quality of meat even though the process of breaking teeth can vary by weeks between sheep. No Department inspector can argue that he is absolutely spot on in determining age. In any event, the market for hoggets will be finished in a matter of weeks. This arbitrary downgrading of sheep is not based on scientific precision and must be ended,” concluded Mr. Brooks.