Lamb carcass grading system sought

Beef producers who send their animals to slaughter can be confident that third party graders are following strict guidelines and will grade the carcass accurately.

The carcass information can be sent back to the feedlot operator or producer to analyze and make changes. Not so with sheep.

There is no single standard way to measure lamb carcass quality in Canada.

With 67 breeds in Canada, it’s hard for processors to know the kinds of meat cuts underneath the wool.

“It creates some issues with producers,” said Manuel Juarez, an Agriculture Canada researcher in Lacombe, Alta., who will spend the next three years trying to find several accurate ways to grade lamb carcasses. “The system doesn’t work.”

Juarez recently toured the Sungold lamb plant in Innisfail, Alta., and said the carcasses hanging all weighed the same but ranged in shape and length.

“For packers, it’ a challenge.”

The payment system is not based on the quality of carcass but on each packer’s standards.

Beginning in July, Juarez will receive lamb carcasses from Sungold, which he will measure and analyze to find a way to accurately analyze carcass quality.

“I hope to give options for carcass classification,” he said. “Both sides could benefit from this.”

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