Comparing lamb marketing methods

Local Land Services - Northern Tablelands - Brent McLeod

Type: PDF
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

Some super interesting data on different factors that affect dressing percentage.

Walks through things that impact dressing percentage:


Changes in dressing percentage with fat score:

  • Fat score 1 (GR 1–5 mm) – Dressing percentage 41%
  • Fat score 2 (GR 6–10 mm) – Dressing percentage 43%
  • Fat score 3 (GR 11–15 mm) – Dressing percentage 45%
  • Fat score 4 (GR 16–20 mm) – Dressing percentage 47%
  • Fat score 3 5 (GR 21 mm +) – Dressing percentage 49%

Time off feed and water before live assessment

  • Time off feed 0–3 h – Increase in dressing % 0
  • Time off feed  4–5 h – Increase in dressing % +1%
  • Time off feed 6–8 h – Increase in dressing %+2%
  • Time off feed 9–12 h – Increase in dressing % +2.5% to 3%
  • Time off feed 13–24 h – Increase in dressing % +3.5% to 4.5%

Skin weight

The dressing percentage allowance for wool length is approximately 1 % / 25 mm of wool length change from the standard 50 mm length used as a 45 per cent dressing percentage guide.

The example given is:

For example, if the wool length is 100 mm, then deduct 2 per cent from the dressing percentage, or if it is 25 mm add 1 per cent to your estimated dressing percentage.


Wether lambs can dress up to 2 % less than ewe lambs.


  • First-cross merino lambs dress up to 1.5 % less than second-cross lambs
  • Purebred merino lambs may dress up to 2.5 % less than second-cross lambs.

Weaned / unweaned

  • Unweaned lambs (still sucking) may dress 1.5 to 2 % higher than weaned lambs of the same weight and fatness.

Carcase trim

Seasonal and feed conditions

Skin value

  • skin as a % of the value of any carcase ranges from 0 to 30 per cent

Payment on hot vs cold weight

The article then compares the price of different selling methods.

Paddock sale or saleyard auction

Over-the-hook (OTH) sale

The author makes the following recommendations:

  1. Determine the carcase weights of the lambs for sale. Weighing lambs and assessing for fat score is an ideal way to accurately predict dressing percentage and hence the estimated carcase weight of the live lamb.
  2. Do some market research so as to get current values
  3. Determine whether the price expected to be paid by the processor when selling OTH is equivalent to the estimated price in the paddock or saleyard.
2016 - Australia - Local Land Services - Northern Tablelands - Brent McLeod
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