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Workshop Addresses Sheepmeat Eating Quality

ELDERS and Meat and Livestock Australia recently teamed up to provide sheep producers in South Australia the benefits of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) sheepmeat and lamb grading system. Information sessions on MSA were held in July at Jamestown, Roseworthy, Murray Bridge and Kingscote with over 100 local producers attending.

Extensive consumer research shows that eating quality is of overriding importance to red meat consumers. They want a palatable consistent and safe product. As a result, sheepmeat eating quality (SMEQ) research was identified as a priority area due to many factors, including the need to maintain strong consumer demand and the opportunity to extract additional value from lamb, hogget and mutton cuts.

The MSA sheepmeat program is based on a supply chain approach, with all sectors, producers, processors and end-users required to contribute to improving the overall eating quality of lamb and sheepmeat. Amongst the many topics discussed, a producers influence whilst sheep are on the farm and preparation for sale was one of the factors that could affect eating quality. A particular reference to ensuring adequate nutrition and minimising pre-slaughter stress in sheep by adopting best practice methods was the focus of the information sessions.

The MSA sheepmeat program is in its early stages, however as more processors and customers become interested in achieving a consistent sheepmeat eating quality, to ensure consumers expectations are met, producers are encouraged to register as a MSA producer.

Management of sheep on-farm is an important element of the program, when consigning sheep or lambs to a licensed MSA processing plant, producers need to be aware of a couple of requirements and recommendations;

  • Minimum 2 weeks off shears (wool length ≥ 5mm).
  • Must be slaughtered 48 hours after dispatch.
  • Animals are to have access to water at all times while not in transit.
  • A minimum of 2 weeks at consignment property before dispatch.
  • Maximum time in transit of 24 hours.
  • MSA number to be included on the NVD under question 7.

MSA registration is free of charge and can be done by completing a short quiz on the MLA website at www.mla.com.au/msa or by completing the MSA registration form which is available via the website or by calling the MLA Brisbane office on 07 3620 5200.

For further information regarding the MSA Sheepmeat program please contact your local Elders Branch or call the MLA Brisbane Office on 07 3620 5200