Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

"The sheep with an illustrious past and a very bright future"

Probe tech data to help farmers marble meat better

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On December - 3 - 2023
Alliance Group's Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has been voted the best grass-fed ribeye steak in the world.

Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has been voted the best grass-fed ribeye steak in the world.

Alliance Group will be deploying probes created by an Australian company to measure the marbling of beef and intramuscular fat percentage in lamb.

This, according to the meat processor, will provide consistent meat quality across the board. A higher intramuscular fat (IMF) percentage would equal a good outcome.

Alliance Group livestock and shareholder services general manager Murray Behrent said the probe will go in the 12th rib of the lamb and cattle beast, analysing how much IMF or marbling there was prior to going across the scales.

According to the company, IMF and marbling percentages were the two largest contributors to the sensory experience when eating red meat.

Farmers would benefit from the data by making informed decisions around their breeding programs, where they were buying from, and what feed would give them the best returns (a reticular feed enabled a higher marbling on the animal), Behrent said.

The probes, made by MEQ, had been trialled at the company’s Timaru and Ōamaru plants for the past nine months, and would be rolled out to other locations, including Southland, in the coming months.

“Once the probes are rolled out across all the lamb and beef chains, we’ll send the farmers data on how their animals have performed.

“Then, over time, we will be able to start telling farmers which animals have high intramuscular fat and what those farmers are doing to achieve those good outcomes,” Behrent said.

The probe would also help in detecting if the IMF was consistent across lambs from different mobs.

Alliance Group’s meat consumer – the retailer or the food service or chef – would get a consistent product, giving the end consumer the same experience with the food, Behrent said.

“It’s all about consistency of the product. That taste is really important for chefs when cooking the product,” he said.

In Southland, the first machines would be rolled out from December and the rollout would be finished by the end of March 2024.

“I do know that part of marbling or intramuscular fat is driven by genetics and feed. Southland is in a good space to provide animal welfare because of the abundance of feed. All animals always have surplus grass to eat, and that good quality feed will ensure a higher probability of marbling,” Behrent said.

The probe claimed to withstand “the extremes of the processing environment” and cause “zero damage to the product”, according to its website.