New meat grading tools

This project will:

  1. Develop prediction algorithms for consumer based eating quality and lean meat yield (by muscle region) using both genetic and phenotypic (carcase grading) information residing in the Information Nucleus data base of approximately 10,000 lambs with full genetic and phenotypic information. This will be undertaken in close collaboration with the genetics team in Program 3 and include the development of genomic predictions for consumer based eating quality.
  2. Develop and calibrate at least 2 new machine based carcase grading tools with final validation in at least 5 collaborating lamb processing plants (= at least 50% of the national lamb slaughter) using established industry resource flocks.
  3. Develop a commercial cuts based Meat Standards Australia lamb carcase grading model (MSA Sheep meats) that predicts the eating quality (fail 2*, good every day 3*, better than every day 4*, premium 5*) of up to 10 cut x cook combinations from the carcase.
  4. Provide flexible decision support information to translate carcase grading and genetic prediction into carcase and/or genetic specifications that will underpin company (processor and retail) brands and their value.
  5. Develop an industry wide standard for managing and auditing carcase grading.
  6. Develop feedback systems to lamb producers using Meat & Livestock Australia’s Livestock Data Link and MSA program (

Calibration and evaluation of carcase grading tools requires a rigorous approach that encompasses the wide range of carcase types found in Australia (14 to 30+kg carcase weight) derived from diverse genetic backgrounds. An Information Nucleus design (now called the Industry Resource Flocks at the University of New England, Armidale and Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Katanning) is the ideal structure to underpin genetic and carcase prediction.

The original Sheep CRC Information Nucleus design generated a unique resource whereby large numbers of slaughter lambs with full pedigree linked to an extensive series of phenotypes for traits related to lean meat yield and eating quality are in a centralised database. The data base currently has approximately 101,000 lamb records, which can through extrapolation be linked to bone out data and measures of meat colour, shear force tenderness, intramuscular fat and other biochemical indicators. This data base is further supported by sensory evaluation of two cuts (short loin and topside) from approximately 1,500 progeny thus allowing the team to develop associations between objective carcase parameters and the actual sensory score of the meat.

As part of this project, further sensory evaluation in combination with the objective carcase measures will be undertaken on an additional 1,000 carcases using the newly created Industry Resource Flocks (at the University of New England, Armidale and Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Katanning) which have evolved to take the place of the CRC Information Nucleus. These flocks produce 2,000 slaughter lambs per year. These large data sets (existing and to be generated) represent a world leading and globally unique resource that puts Australia at least a decade ahead of international competitors.

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

PW3.2 Meat Science & consumer eating quality

In this series:

  1. Achieving a brilliant finish to your lambs
  2. Achieving target pH and temperature declines to improve meat quality
  3. Bone growth and selection for muscling
  4. Intramuscular fat: The key to maintaining eating quality while improving lean meat yield
  5. Electrical stimulation for improved eating quality
  6. Meat colour and shelf life
  7. Optimising breeding objectives for current and future markets

Technical notes:

  1. Lamb nutritional value
  2. Lamb weight and growth rate
  3. Lamb eating quality
  4. New breeding values for yield and eating quality

Products & Training Resources


Compact Shoulder Roast

Lean meat yield manual

New cuts for larger lambs

New cuts for larger lambs

The Nutritive Value and Eating Quality of Australian lamb cuts

Utilising heavy lamb carcases

News Releases

MERINOSELECT now mainstream practice and growing fast
Use of the objective genetic assessment tool, Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), has grown so rapidly in the Merino industry in the last five years that close to 50% of all Merino rams are now sold by studs that are members of MERINOSELECT. Recent analysis by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) reveals that studs in MERINOSELECT now provide around half of the Merino rams used by... Click Here To Read Full Article »
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 »
DNA Flock Profile cements the foundations for new flock
Developing a flock with the right mix of genetics can take generations to perfect, but DNA testing has put Geelong sheep and wool producer Jack Briscoe on the fast track to success. Mr Briscoe is only a year into breeding his own Merino flock after branching out from his sheep contracting business by cobbling together a mixture of 800 home-bred and yard-bought ewes as his breeding base. Click Here To Read Full Article »
Science in plain English the challenge for meat industry postgrads
The next generation of leading meat industry researchers are armed with the knack of translating complicated science into everyday language, following an industry training workshop last week. Some 24 post-graduate researchers sponsored by the Sheep CRC, Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Pork Limited, converged in Sydney for a week-long professional development course, which featured two-days of intensive... Click Here To Read Full Article »
Dramatic increase in early season searches on RamSelect
Inquiry for rams through RamSelect has never been stronger with a dramatic increase in the number of buyers searching the site so far this season compared to last year. More than 1129 ram searches were conducted on RamSelect during July, compared to just 154 at the same time last year. Click Here To Read Full Article »
To see your livestock’s future, just ASKBILL – new app live from Monday
Sheep producers and farm advisers are set to be wowed by the predictive power of the Sheep CRC’s latest flock-management app, ASKBILL, which will be released to industry on Monday. The web-based app,, has been designed to draw on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and forecasts to provide estimates for individual farms of the risk of flystrike and... 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 »
DNA Parentage raises the bar for ASBV accuracies
DNA Parentage testing of progeny from multiple sire mating groups significantly improves the accuracy of breeding values associated with their bloodlines, a new trial has found. A genomic validation trial conducted in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation, Sally Martin Consulting, Moses & Son, and Bluechip Livestock, used Sheep CRC DNA tests to identify parentage of the progeny of 300 ewes that had been joined in a... Click Here To Read Full Article »
RamSelect drives better buying decisions at Gates Performance Genetics
Ram buyers have never had more information at their fingertips to identify the right genetics for their individual needs, according to New England stud breeder Rick Gates, whose composite Maternal and White Suffolk rams sold to a top of $1950 last week. Mr Gates, of Gates Performance Genetics, listed his sale catalogues on the RamSelect Plus app to ensure potential buyers could find exactly the right ram for their grazing... Click Here To Read Full Article »
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