Lamb is meat from sheep that are less than one year old. This means that lamb is tender and full of nutrients, and tastes amazing.
Lamb is one of Australia’s favourite sources of protein, with Australian’s each consuming about 8kg per year – one of the highest levels in the world.
Lamb in Australia
Australia has long had an association with sheep, riding the sheep’s back for the majority of the last two centuries. Although sheep are the ultimate dual purpose animal (wool and meat production), the collapse of the wool price in the early 1990s led farmers and graziers to focus more on the meat side of the enterprise and particularly Lamb.
In 2022, it is estimated that 550,000t of lamb will be produced in Australia, a figure that will continue increase as the national flock continues to rebuild after the prolonged drought of 2016-2020.
Why is lamb a good product?
Lamb is a high quality protein source, providing essential amino acids. This high quality protein helps preserve muscle mass and function. Additionally, Lamb has one of the highest amounts of conjugated linoleic acid, a trans-fat that is linked to several health benefits.
Lamb is rich in iron, but also contains trace elements such as selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins B12 and Niacin. Consumption of lamb not only prevents anemia, but improves absorption of plant based iron sources. Trace elements are necessary for bone density and maintain a healthy immune system.
Consumption of lamb in Australia has maintained at historical levels, assisted by the successful advertising campaigns for Australia Day. However, lamb consumption worldwide is low – well below that of beef, pork and poultry. Drought conditions in much of Australia has resulted in a reduction of supply.
Whilst AJ & PA McBride is especially focused on producing high quality wool, the company also prides itself on the quality of lamb and sheep meat that is produced on our properties.
The amount of lambs that are born on a McBride property each year is more than ‘self-replacement’, that is we produce more lambs than we need to maintain the size of our wool flock. Therefore, the majority of our male lambs are sold as lamb. The female (or ewe) component are held to ensure that the animals with the best objective characteristics are retained in our flock, with other ewe hogget's being sold to other producers who are seeking different or new genetics.
In addition to producing merino lambs, the company also has a cross-bred operation where merino ewes are joined to a dorset ram. The resulting progeny have higher growth rates brought on by ‘hybrid vigor’ a characteristic of cross breeding that improves food to muscle conversion. This allows the company to produce grass fed lambs on the spring flush of feed on our properties.
The Group's production of lamb is focused mainly on the Koniak portion of Konetta station, although the north eastern properties also have entered this market in recent times. The process of transferring weaners from other south east properties to Koniak is a mutually beneficial process, with Koniak's advantage of irrigated feed production allowing the other properties to relieve stocking pressure as the growing season ends.
The strategy at Koniak allows for heavy lamb sales in the winter months, before the traditional increase in lamb supply in spring reduces prices.