DEXA locked in: Now it’s objective eating quality

MLA targets red meat's holy grail: objective eating quality


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Meat and livestock Australia is now targeting the holy grail of red meat production: objectively measured eating quality.

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MOVING FORWARD: MLA managing director Richard Norton wants to put the red meat industry on the front foot. - Photo Kirra Bogan

MOVING FORWARD: MLA managing director Richard Norton wants to put the red meat industry on the front foot. - Photo Kirra Bogan

DEXA – the technology that objectively measures meat, bone and fat is locked in. Now Meat and Livestock Australia has announced it will invest almost $28 million in research into objective measurement that will unlock the holy grail of a value based payment system for red meat – eating quality.

The five year research project will investigate both on-farm and in processing units, and like DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) will draw on a range of technologies that are widely used in other industries. 

MLA managing director Richard Norton told the Yulgilbar Beef Expo in northern NSW last week that the research aimed to enable the objective measurement across all the animal productivity components including eating quality and animal health.

Objective measurement systems are vital for our industry to make precise assessments and support informed commercial business decisions. - Richard Norton

The research will focus on:

Adapting baggage CT scanning to generate an increased amount of objective measurement data (including animal health disease identification and eating quality) as well advancing boning automation.

Utilising aviation CT scanning in various parts of the value chain, including the scanning of live animals. 

Converting CT scanners currently used in the Thoroughbred racing industry to help determine eating quality measurement of beef and lamb carcases, as well on live animals on-farm.

Mr Norton said it was vital the research delivered more thorough and balanced feedback both on-farm and in the processing sector.

“Objective measurement systems are vital for our industry to make precise assessments and support informed commercial business decisions,” Mr Norton said. 

“We have seen the red meat industry endorse and embark on the commercial rollout of objective measurement technology for lean meat yield through DEXA.

MLA will partner with 4DDI on the research to convert CT scanners from the horse racing industry.

MLA will partner with 4DDI on the research to convert CT scanners from the horse racing industry.

“This funding will allow us to ignite the next phase of research to ensure there is the opportunity to provide more comprehensive feedback through the supply chain.”

MLA will partner with 4DDI on the research to convert CT scanners from the horse racing industry to use in the red meat industry. That recently commercialised CT equine scanner is currently used by vets to scan race horses while standing.

It is anticipated the technology could complement the use of DEXA units in the processing sector, specifically for eating quality.

The 4DDI system is expected to also be developed for live animal health and eating quality measurements for use in feedlots and on-farm.

Mr Norton said the three projects will be co-funded through MLA Donor Company with matching contributions from commercial operators.

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