Improving Lamb Lean Meat Yield

A technical guide for the Australian lamb and sheep meat supply chain

Australia’s sheep meat industry is at a critical juncture as producers and processors grapple with the genetics, economics and technology required to deliver the right percentage of lean meat yield (LMY%) from each carcase in order to satisfy consumer demands.

Lambs are normally sold on farm or in saleyards on a per head basis and/or direct to processors on carcase pricing grids using weight and fat tissue depth. These measures are poor predictors of final carcase LMY% and final customer value is not distributed along the value chain accurately. This results in unclear market signals to producers, with the price grids having no capacity to reflect end customer value.

The goal for industry is “value-based marketing”—a term that describes defining market specifications and price based on the individual merit of carcases and/or cuts.

Without this differentiation, no real incentives are given for producers to purchase “better” breeding stock, to finish animals to better meet slaughter endpoints or for processors/retailers to trim lamb and avoid selling excess fat down the chain, and for retailers and purveyors to purchase products differently than in the past.

When processors and retailers can access technology that is easily able to measure LMY%, they will be able to provide real time price signals to producers, who in turn will be able to adjust their genetic selection to better meet the market signals.

This technical guide sets out the current state of play for producers and processors in addressing this challenge, including the latest technology being tested to accurately measure LMY% at line speed in abattoirs, and the genetic tools available to producers to respond to market signals.

DownloadImproving lamb lean meat yield (1.5 MB)

Practical Wisdom Notes / Fact Sheets

PW3.1 Quality Sheepmeat Series

In this series:

  1. Achieving target pH and temperature declines to improve meat quality

  2. Bone growth and selection for muscling

  3. On-farm impacts on meat eating quality

  4. Growth & carcase characteristics of the major sheep breeds in Australia

  5. Selection for growth & lean meat yield

  6. Taking the mutton out of lamb

  7. Reducing dehydration in slaughter lambs

  8. Achieving a brilliant finish to your lambs

  9. Merinos can deliver

  10. Electrical stimulation for improved eating quality

  11. Meat colour and shelf life

Products & Training Resources


New cuts for larger lambs

The Nutritive Value and Eating Quality of Australian lamb cuts

Utilising heavy lamb carcases

News Releases

Sheepmeat research brings MSA Mark II a step closer
The sheepmeat industry has taken major steps forward towards delivering a meat quality grading system that can cater for individual animal assessment, thanks to the combination of results from a series of research projects. Click Here To Read Full Article »
New insights to deliver custom-fitted lamb exports for US and China
Lamb eating quality trials have identified new opportunities to grow the valuable Chinese and United States markets, with the consumer insights to enable the sheepmeat value chain to better address quality and price demands. The USA and China are two of Australia’s strongest sheepmeat export markets, but until now insights into consumer perceptions of Australian sheepmeat have been limited. Click Here To Read Full Article »
Is long-haul shipping affecting the eating quality of Aussie lamb exports?
Sheepmeat researchers are tackling the problem of what impact long-haul shipping routes have on eating quality, with a new series of consumer trials planned for the United States. Following feedback from American consumers that Australian lamb has a ‘gamey’ flavour, Murdoch University post-graduate researcher Maddison Corlett is examining whether this is true and the possible causes of this perception. Click Here To Read Full Article »
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