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Farmers Demand End to Hogget Downgrading

12 May 2015

IRELAND – A farm spokesperson has accused “overzealous” abattoir officials of downgrading hoggets to ewes, based on the ‘flawed science’ of dentition.

John Brooks, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association sheep chairman, said the potential losses can be around $50-60 per head. The “unacceptable loss” works out around €2.50/kilo.

He questioned the lack of mutton on supermarket shelves and whether farmers were selling ewes then being sold as lamb by retailers.

"This is happening where hoggets' mouths are being examined and those animals found breaking teeth are classified as ewes, even though this method of determining age is a flawed science," said Mr Brooks.

"The reality is that one hogget is much the same as another when it comes to quality of meat even though the process of breaking teeth can vary by weeks between sheep.

“No Department inspector can argue that he is absolutely spot on in determining age. In any event, the market for hoggets will be finished in a matter of weeks.

“This arbitrary downgrading of sheep is not based on scientific precision and must be ended.”

TheSheepSite News Desk