Lambs get a new official definition

Lamb definition changes
The official definition of a lamb has changed and producers need to get up to speed with the key criteria for the new season.

The lambing season is upon us and while nothing much changes in the paddock, the official definition of what constitutes a lamb certainly has.

The new definition is ‘an ovine animal that: (a) is under 12 months of age; or (b) does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.

A new series of resources has been launched to provide guidance to the sheep industry on what the change means in practice and how to apply the new definition.

The resources – available at – have been developed in partnership with Meat & Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council. The resources include a fact sheet and video featuring infographics, and live lamb examples to make interpretation of the new definition easier.

Sheep Producers Australia president Chris Mirams said the resources will help to give producers confidence in applying the new definition.

“These new resources clearly explain the change and ensure sheep producers have the tools to know what permanent incisor teeth in wear look like, compared with incisor teeth which are erupted but not yet in wear,” Mr Mirams said.

“We also want to dispel any myths or misconceptions about what the changeover means for hoggets and on-farm management.

“The new definition will not allow hoggets or yearlings to be classified as lamb and the extra time once lambs break their permanent incisors is, on average, only 27 days. This is important for producers to know to enable any adjustments to their on-farm management to occur.

“For producers, the change means having increased confidence to finish their lambs in the best condition possible. For consumers, research has shown it will not have any discernible difference in eating quality in the small number of lambs that will be sold a few weeks older.”


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