Prime versus store lambs

// Rearing and Weaning

Is it better to sell lambs as store or try and finish them?

image of lambs and ewes

This is a decision every commercial sheep breeder needs to make at weaning and in many cases, it might be better to sell lambs as store and focus on ewe production for the following year.

Speaking on a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Knowledge Hub video, farms system scientist Tom Fraser and farm consultant Jansen Travis discuss breaking the "light lamb chain" by selling a large proportion of the lamb crop store at weaning.

Fraser says by selling lambs store, farmers are able to partition the extra feed into their ewes over mating and during pregnancy, so they wean heavier lambs the following season.

Travis says with falling summer schedules and slower lamb growth rates, it takes about a month post-weaning to match the value of the lamb at weaning.

This means there was an obligation to carry that lamb for longer to generate a profit. 

Reiterating Fraser’s comments, Travis says if a large proportion of the lamb crop was sold at weaning, more feed would be made available for ewes and ewe performance would lift as a result.

This would mean better performance over the following lambing, increased pre-weaning growth rates and a higher proportion of the lamb crop sold prime at the weaning draft. 

North Canterbury hill country farmer Henry Pinckney was struggling to finish too many light lambs. Working with Travis, he made the decision to sell most of his lamb as store one season. He is now weaning 33-34kg lambs and selling 60 percent of his lambs prime at weaning.

“This has created a huge opportunity for us,” says Travis.   

Find out more

 For more information, watch this video on the Knowledge Hub: Selling vs. finishing lambs