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Beyond the Bale : March 2011
29 March 2011 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM Challenge industry that Merino lambs are too slow to grow and have dark cutting meat. Growth traits Meat Standards Australia (MSA) recommends that, for optimum eating quality results, animals should be gaining weight prior to slaughter. MSA recommends growth rates two weeks prior to slaughter should be 100 grams per day for crossbreds and 150 grams per day for Merinos. The Meat Challenge averaged 170 grams per day despite very wet weather conditions whilst in the feedlot. Body weights were measured on the wether lambs seven times over the duration of the Meat Challenge. Six of those weights were used to generate the average growth rate for the 50 teams involved. Team average growth rates ranged from 137 to 204 grams per day adjusted for age. The variation between animals ranged from 9 to 321 grams per day. These results highlight the opportunities within the Merino industry if producers choose growth as the breeding objective and provide the requisite high nutrition to their flock. Carcase traits The market specifications for carcase weight at the time of processing were 22to26kgwitha2to4fatscore.27 of the 50 teams met the weight and fat specifications. All 27 teams had a fat score of3(11to15mm). The teams that fell outside the market specifications were largely hindered by the age of the wethers when entered into the Meat Challenge. The variation between teams for Eye Muscle Depth, Eye Muscle Width and Eye Muscle Area ranged from 25.3 to 29.3mm, 58.3 to 65.2mm and 12 to 15.3 centimetres square respectively. A subjective assessment and two fat measurements in the chiller 24 hours post slaughter at the GR and C sites were taken. The two fat assessments 24 hours post slaughter give an indication of fat cover and distribution. Ideal fat ranges are score 2 and 3 ie from 6 to 15mm. 94 per cent of the teams had between 6 and 15 mm (GR). The average of the trial was 11.8mm (GR) and 5mm (C). Meat colour traits Meat Challenge results for colour were good to excellent. A meat's colour determines its shelf life and consumer satisfaction. Colour was measured on the eye muscle at the 12th rib. A high pH can affect meat colour and shelf life. Merinos have been regarded as having high pH levels. However the trial average pH was 5.6, which is below the industry upper benchmark (for all carcases regardless of breed) of 5.8. The Meat Challenge results for pH showed very little to no difference between the teams. Of the individual pH results, only 3.5 per cent of the Merino wether lambs processed were above the industry upper benchmark of 5.8. The higher the a* colour value the redder the meat. The a* reading needs to be above 14.5 to achieve 95 per cent confidence that random consumers will be satisfied. The average for all teams in the Meat Challenge was an excellent 21.4 with very little difference between teams. L* readings measure dark or light colour. The market specification for L* readings is between 34 to 44, with the higher the number the better. The average L* reading for the Meat Challenge was 36.8, ie above the industry lower benchmark of 34. Only three per cent of all the Merino lambs there were below a 34 reading. More information: Sally Martin, I&I NSW Sheep & Wool Officer, 0427 401 538; Craig Wilson, Craig Wilson & Associates, 0428 250 982; Marty Moses, Moses & Son, 0417 691 308. The results from the Meat Challenge are positive for the Merino industry. Criag Wilson, Roger Fletcher, AWI CEO Stuart McCullough and Sally Martin of I&I NSW. THE WOOL CHALLENGE: Two assessment shearings will happen in April 2011 and April 2012. The results will be reported in a future edition of Beyond the Bale.