THE high growth and yield potential of the Dorper breed is paying dividends for a Maranoa couple who have gone further down the value chain after purchasing a meat processing plant.
Three and a half years ago, Jackson producers Shane and Jane Elliott purchased their Elliott Agribusiness processing plant at Roma while running their 5700 hectare cattle, sheep and goat breeding and finishing property, Scotland, Jackson.
The plant now processes between 180 to 220 lambs or small stock each week along with 20 to 30 cattle and has currently reached chiller capacity with plans to expand in the future.
Whole body products are supplied to high quality butchers, most in the south east.
The majority of Elliott Agribusiness processed lamb is home bred stock with small numbers purchased from local producers.
The family use Dorper and British cross lambs preferring the third to fifth cross animals.
Mr Elliott said the breed’s carcass characteristics and high eating quality made Dorpers ideal for the trade lamb market.
“The Dorpers are very good from a yield point of view and meat yield particularly in those higher value cuts in the hindquarter and loins,” he said.
“Well finished Dorper and British cross lambs don’t only have higher yield but if finished well have high eating quality.
“When they are not totally clean shedding but three part shed and still have a bit of wool you tend to find good carcass characteristics and (they are) still lovely and hit the mark in terms of the weight range.”
Everything except the sheep’s skin and tail can be processed and sold.
Mr Elliott said the reason for diversifying with a processing plant was to gain more control over their markets and take some fluctuation out of their prices.
“We were contract processing a few head each week at plants at Miles and Wandoan but they closed down so when the plant at Roma became available we decided to buy it,” he said.
“It was out of necessity but we also had the desire to get further down the value chain and have more control over our destiny.”
The plant processes as per Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) MSA standards for beef and small stock but is only domestic accredited with Safe Food Queensland, not AUS-MEAT Accredited which is required.
Mr Elliott said they were working with the MSA team refining their processing techniques to ensure they would be well prepared when they were big enough to become certified.
“Our whole mission is to produce high eating quality beef and lamb from the Maranoa region,” he said.
“We realise we are a small niche business and we have total control of our processing and production.
“We are only a small operation but we aim to produce a very high quality product. We hope to continue to grow and get better at what we do.”