Linden Foods recently hosted a group of farmers for a tour of the Primal site. During the visit the farmers were given a tour of the lairage and kill floor, before going to Tesco in Dungannon and then to James Henderson’s farm in Kilkeel.
Also present were Tesco’s Lamb Agriculture Manager Hannah Donegan and Lamb Consultant Diane Spence.
During the tour of the lairage, the farmers were shown how the lairage works by Linden Foods Supply Chain Manager Keith Williamson and Lamb Buyer Gary Foster. Farmers had the opportunity to see different grades of lambs before slaughter, with Gary explaining what the ideal lamb is for Linden Foods, with discussion on potential ways of achieving this specification. The farmers were then taken on a tour of the kill floor, where they saw each stage of the slaughtering process, with the reasoning behind each step being explained. The farmers were shown the lambs being weighed and graded at the scale and discussed at length with Gary and Keith why each lamb was given a particular grade and what in particular the grader is looking for.
In addition the farmers were able to view the lambs they had seen in the lairage as they were graded. The farmers then visited a Tesco store to see how lamb is marketed to the consumer. The differences between the scale of sales of lamb compared to beef, chicken and pork were outlined and reasons for which were discussed. This outlined the fact that lamb is very much a seasonal product.
The group then visited James Henderson’s farm. James farms beef and sheep in Kilkeel and discussed the challenges the farm has faced in the past. James explored the ways in which he is continually monitoring and improving the performance of his sheep flock, through the use of benchmarking and performance recording. James utilizes Shearwell technology to calculate birth to weaning liveweight gains, as well as to select replacement ewe lambs, cull ewes and review overall flock performance.
The farmers had the opportunity to speak to Eileen McCloskey from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, about issues such as flock health and disease management.