Head Shepherd

Innovative lamb processing with Gundagai Meat Processors

April 17, 2023 Will Barton Season 2023 Episode 128
Head Shepherd
Innovative lamb processing with Gundagai Meat Processors
Show Notes

As producers, you're always wanting to get the most for your hard earned produce and it always helps when your processor wants that for you, too.

Located mid-way between Sydney and Melbourne, Gundagai Meat Processors (GMP) is one of the most innovative lamb processors in Australia. GMP became a household name within the industry as they were the first to offer premiums for IMF.

This week we have Will Barton, CEO of GMP on the podcast. We start off strong diving straight into why GMP decided to offer a premium to suppliers.

"We had a period from 2000 to 2020 where we weren't trading. What that meant for us is, in 2020 when we stuck our head up and decided to launch Gundagai Lamb as a brand, we could start up as we wanted. We said "Hey, we're going to do something different do you want to come with us?"."

Will goes through how GMP decided what that "something different" actually was.
Gundagai started the process of change by paying less for over-fat lambs, and more for lambs that had a better meat yield. They have now developed a scoring system called GLQ score.
"We realised [...] that if we didn't have an eating quality measure to balance the lean meat yield trait... we were potentially going to be in a situation where we bred chicken." i.e lean, fast growing and tasteless. "We need a 'guardian' of eating quality."

Will runs through the work they did with machine learning and AI to come up with the GLQ score.

"It's more than just IMF. It's an algorithm that encourages above average marbling but it also discourages over fattening." 
"If we get a carcass thats got an insane amount of marbling but a low lean meat yield, it wont make GLQ5+. Because it's unsustainably fat and we want producers to be tuning into genetics to create that outcome rather than just over fattening an animal to get there." Says Will. "We also track 20 animal health conditions and/or carcass defects. We take a point off for any of those animal health attributes on a carcass by carcass basis." 

To sum all of that together means a GLQ5+ lamb has to be above average eating quality, which has not been done via excessive fattening and the animals either got clean bill of health or the farmers been given feedback to improve their practices over time- so a holistic attitude approach.  

And how much financial reward as a producer do you get for achieving that?
"We pay, at the moment, $0.80/kilo for a GLQ5+ lamb."

Mark asks if there's any focus on a particular breed, or if they'll work with producers advising on those requirements to be GLQ5+. Will says that's not the role of GMP

"We see that you can have any breed that you like and achieve the desired outcomes if you follow the right genetics and then match those genetics with the right nutritional platform. We're not about to become agronomists or geneticists."

Head Shepherd is brought to you by neXtgen Agri International Limited, we help livestock farmers get the most out of the genetics they farm with. Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about how we can help you do what you do best - info@nextgenagri.com.

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