Lamb Processing

Sheep Producers Australia seeks wider lamb IMF grading uptake

Sheep Central, May 24, 2021

A MEQ probe being used in the GMP lamb chain.

SHEEP Producers Australia has come out in support of wider uptake of intramuscular fat measurement by lamb processors and the inclusion of the trait in Aus-meat language.

SPA welcomed the launch last week of Gundagai Meat Processors’ world-first grid paying producers on a lean meat yield, weight and intramuscular fat basis, with feedback on animal health at an individual carcase level.

SPA chief executive Stephen Crisp said the body has given support for IMF to be recognised as a trait in meat language for sheep meat.

“There is no problem as far as industry is concerned with having IMF being put through the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee as soon as we dot a few i’s and cross a few t’s.

“Industry is keen to have it (IMF) as part of the language and the language standards committee in principle has no problems with that,” he said.

“I’m confident that it will not be an issue.”

Mr Crisp said including IMF in the Aus-meat language would provide a reference standard against which emerging technologies that aim to predict chemical intramuscular fat in Australian lamb and sheep meat can be assessed against for accuracy at chain speed, and ultimately drive their commercialisation.

“There are already established Australian Sheep Breeding Values, but there needs to be market forces and value signals in place to encourage their use.

“It is part of the reason that there are potential benefits in growing our national flock numbers to a point where the industry can have more experimentation in advancing desirable traits,” he said.

SPA would like to see the evolution of sheep meat industry value chains to support objective measurement technologies at chain speed so that consumers can be guaranteed a quality product, producers can adjust their ram selection for a balance between yield and eating quality in the lambs they produce, and processors can optimise boning, target specific markets, and potentially reward producers.

Mr Crisp said IMF and eating quality are critical to the future of the Australian lamb industry.

“I would think several devices will come to market and we would encourage the whole industry to take it up, to make sure that we end up with the most productive lambs, but also our eating quality is exactly what our consumer wants.

“We are currently looking to re-build a flock, and if we can build a better flock in the process, that can only be good for future returns and the sustainability of the sheep industry,” he said.

“This is definitely a move in the right direction and if it helps make our flock even better and our consumers even happier, then it is a ‘no-lose’ development, as far as I can see.”

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