The sheep industry has a new tool to bolster its bottom line, by producers improving the lean meat yield obtained from each carcase and processors and retailers saving time in preparing meat for sale.
The lean meat yield (LMY) of a lamb carcase is a direct driver of profit for producers, processors and retailers alike and a new industry manual has been released to assist the supply chain to extract maximum value from this important measure.
LMY is a standard measurement used to compare lamb carcases – it is the amount of lean meat recovered after the separation of all muscle tissue from the fat and bone components of a carcase.
Sheep CRC meat scientist Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University in WA, said lean meat yield was a vital measure for assessing the true value of a carcase, and therefore the price paid to producers and the price charged to consumers.
“Lean meat yield decreases as the amount of carcase fat and bone increases – as you can imagine for processors they have to trim excess fat off before they send it to retail to be marketed as cuts,” Dr Gardner said.
“That equates to a lot of wastage and a lot of labour, so it’s a key trait that influences profit and an area where we have tools at hand to make some immediate improvements.”
Detailing those tools and how to apply them is the new ‘Improving Lamb Lean Meat Yield - A technical guide for the Australian lamb and sheep meat supply chain’, recently published by the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
Lead author of the manual, Kelly Pearce of Murdoch University, said the manual would be a key resource for producers and processors to refer to for all the technical information they need.
“For many sheep producers, the goal is to turn off animals at heavier weights in shorter time spans. This manual provides advice on how they can do that without compromising the quality of the lamb and accruing price penalties,” Dr Pearce said.
Among the tools available to producers are Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) for post-weaning weight (PWT), post-weaning fat (PFAT) and intramuscular fat (IMF) – all have an influence on LMY and eating quality.
“They are key drivers of growth and body composition and the industry have those ASBVs at their fingertips right now and they can use them to select for lean meat yield and produce far more profitable animals,” Dr Pearce said.
“However, we must balance the pursuit of increased lean meat yield with the importance of eating quality traits so that we don’t produce overly lean and tough meat.”
The Sheep CRC is also researching new technologies to measure lean meat yield on the processing line and provide immediate price signals to the supply chain about the value of individual carcases.
“For producers this is really important because ultimately they need price signals from the processing sector that rewards lean meat yield and encourages them to improve their genetic selection decisions,” Dr Gardner said.
Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666