Organisations from across the UK have come in behind the request to change the rules, including bodies representing farmers, auctioneers and abattoirs.
All have agreed that moving away from a ‘mouthing’ system to a calendar-system for determining when to split carcasses would bring benefits for the whole supply chain, domestic and export markets. Instead of checking lambs for the eruption of their first set of permanent incisors, the proposed new system would see a simple cut-off date of 30th June each year. All lambs sent to slaughter before this date would be deemed to be under 12 months of age and, therefore, not required to have their carcass split.
The NFU and NSA argue the change to a date-based system would not necessarily see a massive reduction in the number of carcasses being split, but would remove a great deal of uncertainty in the supply chain, as well as save money from not having to check for teeth in markets and abattoirs.
Charles Sercombe, NFU Livestock Board Chairman, explains: “We have congratulated Mr Eustice on his Great British Food unit and feel this proposed change on TSEs sits perfectly with its aims. With a drive to grow our industry through more exports, removing the uncertainty around levels of supply of unsplit carcasses would be a very positive thing, particularly with our largest lamb market, France, for whom an unsplit carcass is ordinarily essential.
"In discussion with French importers, we have heard that such a move would be favourable to our exports. We believe this will also pay dividends when it comes to extending our red meat exports beyond the EU.”