MEAT Standard Australia is a natural fit for sheep meat producers wanting to maximise the returns from premium eating quality in lamb, according to New South Wales producer Robert Armstrong.
Mr Armstrong runs 3000 Primeline ewes on the 2000ha property ‘Yullundry’ outside Cumnock in central-west NSW with his wife, Felicity, and their three daughters.
He said the guidelines for the MSA meat grading system reinforced good stock management.
“It’s something we’ve always taken very seriously here, so the MSA framework has backed up what we do.”
Up to 75 percent of the Armstrongs’ lambs are processed through Thomas Foods International’s plant at Tamworth, with a small consignment of lighter lambs going through the saleyards or direct to Coles.
“We aim for a 26kg carcase…that’s the sweet spot for us, where we reach our most efficient level of production,” Mr Armstrong said.
To help maintain eating quality consistency Mr Armstrong supplements his flock’s diet with grain during months when grass is light on.
The grain consists of a mix of oats and wheat, with some supplementation products for the well-being of the stock.
Eating quality is primary focus
Eating quality has been a primary focus for Yullundry over the past five years and the Armstrongs have changed their breeding program with the aim to turn over higher yielding lambs, with premium eating quality, earlier.
“We have a self-replacing composite breed, joining the same ewe with the same ram,” he said.
“The breeder we use [to supply our genetics] is very progressive and focused on the quality of the product.
“We’re interested in the future of the sheep meat industry and where this focus on eating quality is heading.”
Potential for premium price
Mr Armstrong said this eating quality focus has the potential to attract a premium price for quality product.
“You don’t want to be in the position where you’ve missed the boat.
“I think eating quality is gaining traction within the industry. It’s consumer driven,” he said.
“If it’s what the consumers are asking for, it’s what the processors will ask for from us.
“It’s pretty challenging to make a profit from agriculture, but MSA allows you to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.”