THE lamb industry is losing its way and southern producers are the worst.
The wrong type of lamb is being bred and everyone, including processors, is to blame.
That was the message from Breakout River Meats managing director Chris Cummins, who told producers at a forum in Corowa, in NSW, last week that producers had lost their way when it came to breeding a good domestic lamb.
While the shortage of lambs had masked this in the past few years, the processor warned they could now be "more choosy".
Mr Cummins put the wrong carcass characteristics down to a dependence on figures and lamb producers not buying rams according to shape and style.
"And the further south you go, the worse it is," he said.
"I've been quoted as saying lambs are becoming long, lean, lanky and lacking and I stand by that."
"I can go to a yarding of 30,000 lambs at Wagga Wagga and only find 500 that suit what we need," he said. "We've gone too far when it comes to measurements and it has created a whole lot of other problems."
Mr Cummins showed producers a photo of two lambs hanging side by side. While the same length and weight, one was much better for processing due to its shape.
He said he looked for a good, broad head and solid neck in lambs.
"A narrow head and a skinny neck on a lamb means no forequarter, no loin, no leg, no yield and no profit," he said.
Breakout River Meats supply high-end butcher shops and does not kill Merinos or their crosses, however Mr Cummins has become a big fan of Dorper crosses.
"The butchers love them. We contacted a butcher shop recently and they increased their order, simply because we had Dorper-crosses," he said.