Lamb Processing

LambEx feedlot competition entrants inspect their lambs

Terry Sim, February 16, 2024

LambEx 2024 feedlot competition entrants lined up for a group photograph at the inspection day.

LAMBS in Australia’s first major sheep meat feedlot competition based on full Meat Standards Australia grading have been processed at Thomas Foods International’s Stawell plant in Victoria.

The 1500 lambs entered in the 2024 LambEx AMPC Feedlot Carcase Competition at the Thornby Feedlot in South Australia were processed over three days this week after a producer inspection day on 11 February.

The competition — with entrants from South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, but not New South Wales — is believed to be the largest cuts-based comparison of commercial lambs ever held in Australia and possibly the world.

Inspecting lambs at the LambEx inspection day were, from left, Graham and Sam Clothier from Woolumbool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LambEx chair and South Australian sheep producer Jason Schulz said the lambs will have their weight gain calculated over the 67 days in the feedlot and their fleeces assessed valued via fibre diameter and wool cut. All lambs were shorn at feedlot induction.

Mr Schultz said the lamb carcases will also be MSA assessed, attributing value to their intramuscular fat and lean meat yield after measurement by the MEQ Probe and DEXA at Stawell.

“We are capturing all the data (wool, skin value and carcase) from these lambs to try to determine which is the most profitable lamb team in Australia.

“Every carcase will have an MSA index which will help us assess or rank the lambs and rank the average of each team to determine who has the most profitable carcase,” he said.

“What I think is fantastic is that this has given us a glimpse or a snapshot of where the industry hopefully will be in the future in terms of carcase feedback and assessment.

“Information or knowledge is power and with that feedback you will be able to make on-farm decisions on what you are doing well from a genetic and nutrition point of view and also, more importantly, what you can improve on to produce a better product.”

Australian sheep producers have entered lambs from 16 different breeds, including Merinos, Dohnes and Polwarths, British breeds, composites, Dormers, plus second cross terminal and maternal lambs, but no shedding sheep.

Mr Schultz said there are no New South Wales entrants due to the interested producers deciding after considering freight costs and the low price of lambs at that time that there was limited value in entering, although Trans Australian Livestock and Freight Management sponsorship later subsidised the competition entrants’ freight costs.

Mr Schultz said the real benefit of the competition for entrants is to get the feedback and comprehensive data on their lambs, although he said there will be prizes awarded to the winning lamb teams at 2024 LambEx in Adelaide from 7-9 August.

“Those who are participating in this carcase competition are really data-driven and I guess they all back themselves in and believe they have a good product, but they would like to know where they are doing well from a carcase standpoint and there they need to improve.

“I just think that reflects a tremendous attitude and if we have people like that in our industry it is only going to keep improving.”

Mr Schultz said he hoped the competition would lead to better carcase feedback for producers.

South Australian lamb producers, from left, Neville Jacka and sons, Joseph and George, look for their lambs at the LambEx inspection day.

The AMPC LambEx Feedlot Carcase Competition has been a collaborative effort between key partners AMPC, Thomas Foods International, Thornby Feedlot and Meat & Livestock Australia to deliver a Meat Standards Australia cuts-based graded commercially-focused lamb feedlot carcase competition across Australia.

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