A CLEARER definition of “lamb” is set to make things easier for Australian exporters, federal authorities say.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the definition of lamb has been changed to match those of our competitors in export legislation.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud said the change meant farmers could now sell sheep as lamb after teeth had popped through.

“Lamb will continue to be called lamb even if the animal has permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth have not begun to wear,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This brings us into line with the definition in New Zealand and it makes sense to have the same definition as our competitors. Why would we hand the Kiwis an unfair advantage?

“This is a simple, common sense change which will help our farmers.”


Mr Littleproud said lamb in Australia previously had been considered to have grown into the less lucrative “hogget” or mutton when incisor teeth were visible.

The legislation takes effect on 1 July 2019.

“It also brings clarity to the definition – growers will now clearly see when a lamb becomes a sheep, when there is visible wear on the incisors,” the minister said.

Lamb and mutton exports were worth more than $2.6bn to the Australian economy in 2016-17, according to the minister’s office, with lamb alone worth more than $1.9bn.