Entries in next month's Mundulla Prime Lamb Competition will help refine the new hook tracking system at JBS Australia's Bordertown abattoir.
Last year only the five highest scoring pens of 10 lambs from each class of the on-hoof judging progressed to on-hook judging, but with the installation of a radio frequency identification sheep tag reader and electronic trackers on the hooks, the company will be able to keep track of the individual carcases from the more than 45 lots expected to be entered.
The hook tracking installation was a partnership between the SA Sheep Advisory Group, Sheep CRC and JBS, with $100,000 in financial assistance from the SA Sheep Industry Fund.
JBS farm assurance and supply chain manager Mark Inglis says like any new technology, it will take time to perfect, especially ensuring the data can be captured at the chain's speed of 12 lambs a minute.
When fully operational, JBS's lamb suppliers will receive lean meat yields on all their carcases from the dual energy x-ray absorptiometry machine in the plant.
Pathology screens have also been added to collect animal health data.
"It is very important from a food processing perspective that we are feeding information back to producers about what customers want," Mr Inglis said.
"From the work I did with the SA Lamb Group, we found there was minimal feedback on sheep and lambs other than hot standard carcase weight and palpated fat.
"We (JBS) have been uploading information to Livestock Data Link for six or seven years so producers can see the weight and fat of their lambs and it also has lean meat yield but it is an algorithm not the actual DEXA reading, so it will be interesting to see in the lamb competition how the two compare."
If commercial sheep producers can produce a better article, the meatworks has a better article to sell - everyone wins.
More than $10,000 in cash and products is up for grabs in the Mundulla Prime Lamb Competition.
Entrants will be paid a 20 cent a kilogram premium above the grid price for their lambs but organisers Francis Andrews and Tim Wiese say enhanced feedback has been the main motivator for entrants.
"If commercial sheep producers can produce a better article, the meatworks has a better article to sell - everyone wins," Mr Andrews said.
"We know we already produce some of the best lambs in the state here so it is a chance to improve this further - we need to thank JBS for making this happen ," Mr Wiese said.
All of the pens will be judged on-hoof at the Mundulla Show on March 7, with three classes- trade, export and a Merino class.
A livestock innovation expo will also be held at the show with more than 30 trade sites, including Zee Tags which have donated all the electronic tags for the competition lambs, Zoetis, Animal Innovations and Livestock Pricing.
A presentation night will be held at the Mundulla Hotel on March 18 to announce the on-hoof and on-hook winners.
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