Do shorn lambs grow faster than woolly lambs?

Leading meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has launched New Zealand’s first comprehensive study into whether shorn lambs grow faster than woolly lambs.

Some farmers believe that shearing lambs destined to be slaughtered can result in increased growth rates however until now there has been limited research into the area.

Now, Alliance Group and its research partner AbacusBio are testing the theory with lambs across five farms throughout New Zealand.

Commencing this month, four mobs of lambs of the same breed will be selected for the study with each mob having a different treatment. One will be shorn, another belly-crutched, another brought in but not shorn and one mob remaining woolly and on pasture.

Lambs will be weighed prior to the trial starting and weight changes will be monitored on a three-weekly basis. This will be repeated until all lambs have been processed. The study will also track environmental conditions such as temperature and rainfall.

The lambs’ carcase weight at the time of slaughter will be used to assess the growth rate. The study will also look at the ViaScan yield and the GR measurements for fat cover to evaluate yield. A financial analysis will also be completed to understand the costs and benefits of shearing lambs.

Murray Behrent, general manager livestock at Alliance Group, said: “Our suppliers have expressed an interest in investigating whether the belief that a lamb grows faster when shorn can be quantified. The results of this research will have important implications for how our suppliers manage their stock.

“This is another example of Alliance Group undertaking research and development to help suppliers make informed decisions based on science.”

Hadyn Craig, consultant for AbacusBio, said that an earlier smaller trial on one property did show a marginal benefit of shearing.

“While the earlier study showed that shorn lambs did attain greater carcase weights than woolly lambs, there is a need for a more comprehensive trial to expand on this and provide reliable and robust results.”

The results of the research are expected to be available later this year.

Alliance supplied material.

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