The strong supplies of lambs being presented for slaughter this autumn, processors are keen to source FQAS approved lambs, according to Northern Ireland’s Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

It reports that, with this in mind, it is important to consider the positive implications of becoming Farm Quality Assurance (FQAS) approved for sheep.

There is currently no additional cost for being approved for sheep with the annual renewal fee for FQAS membership the same whether a producer is approved for ‘Beef’, ‘Sheep’ or ‘Beef & Sheep’, it says.

According to the LMC, sourcing FQAS approved lambs is important for Northern Irish lamb processors as it allows them service the high value retail and food service markets in the UK. For many of these customers FQ status on lamb is a key requirement of their specification, it says. FQAS provides additional assurances on animal welfare, food safety, traceability and care for the environment, all of which retailers place in high regard, the LMC goes on to say. 

Achieving FQAS approved status allows sheep producers to keep their options open when marketing their lambs, it says, and producers slaughtering lambs in local plants will receive a financial bonus when lambs are FQAS approved at slaughter.

In addition, it says that producers with FQAS lambs will find it easier to secure sales than those producers presenting non-FQAS lambs.

At present Farm Quality Assured status is not a requirement when lambs are exported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter in Republic of Ireland plants.

Export of lambs for direct slaughter to the Republic is highly dependent on the euro/sterling exchange rate and the demand from processors in the Republic. The recent weakening of the euro has meant an increased proportion of Northern Irish lambs have been slaughtered domestically.