Farm Table says:
Quantifying the costs associated
What is the problem?
The cost of the grass seed damage to processors has knock-on costs throughout the business. Consequently, it can be complex to estimate the cost of downgraded carcases.
This project attempted to quantify the increased operational costs on the slaughter floor and boning room relative to the degree of grass seed infestation. Further to this, primal cuts were evaluated for decreased marketability due to reduced weight or damage to the integrity of the cuts. The level of damage that the primal could sustain before being downgraded was also assessed.
A grass seed module (GSEED module) was then developed within Excel to calculate the cost of grass seed contamination to the business on a whole carcase and per kilogram basis. The module estimates the amount of trim removed relative to the location and severity of GSEED infestation and its impact on the final primal weight. The module allows the user to edit the costs of production, severity of primal down grade, and lost revenue.
The GSEED module was developed to assist processors quantify the cost of GSEED infestation, and to help understand where the costs are occurring along the processing chain. Additionally, the module estimate of GSEED cost could help justify penalties applied to seedy lambs that are traded over the hooks and underpin communications to prime lamb producers.
The goal of this research was to:
- quantify the costs incurred by the meat industry when processing lamb carcasses that have GSEED damage by undertaking a time-in-motion study of the S/F and boning room and a comparative boning study.
- develop a GSEED module in the LVC to estimate the costs incurred from grass seed damage.
What did the research involve?
To quantify the cost of GSEED damage within a processing plant, data were collected in three areas:
- side to side comparative boning trial
- impact of GSEED on primal endpoint
- benchmarking wastage trim at pre-scales and pre-boning stages
3.1 Comparative boning trial
– carcases with varying degrees of GSEED damage were selected prior to trimming on the S/F, and the trimmers were instructed to only perform a standard hygiene trim
3.2 Benchmarking S/F trimming and boning room pre-trim
– the amount of trim removed on the slaughter floor and in the boning room pre-trim was benchmarked by weighing carcases pre and post trimming. When trimming exceeded the standard AUS-MEAT trim, the possible reason was recorded. The presence of GSEED was recorded, along with any excessive trim and/or damage to primal integrity
What were the key findings?
The 34 carcasses selected for the comparative boning trial were assessed for GSEED infestation across the five primal regions.
4.1 S/F hot trim to remove GSEED
– the LHS of each carcase was trimmed on a stationary rail to remove all the grass seed. The trim weight was recorded for each primal region
4.2 Relationship between primal marketability and GSEED damage
– under commercial conditions it is not uncommon to have grass seed damaged carcases trimmed heavily, even if there is only light seed infestation
– generally the S/F trimmers did not have the time to remove all the GSEED once the infestation was light/medium and had spread beyond the flap region to the FQ and HQ shank, or when the incidence was higher than 25% of the carcasses in a mob
4.3 Benchmarking S/F trimming and boning room pre-trim
– slaughter floor
– for a standard run of lambs the amount of trim removed on the S/F was on average 0.812kg (0.3 – 1.35kg), of which 36% had their flaps removed partially or entirely
– the trim applied to the trial lambs could be considered a base line level of trim to remove GSEED
4.4 Cost of processing at slower chain speeds Slaughter Floor- The S/F chain speed could operate at maximum speed of 9.5 carcasses per minute.
-The chain speed in the boning room was operated at the same speed as the S/F, but while attending the site the chain speed was maintained even while handling a line of seedy lambs.
5. Grass Seed module development 5.1 Severity and location of GSEED infestation
– the severity of GSEED damage was graded into three different categories based on the number of seeds found within a primal region
5.2 Estimation of trim wastage associated with GSEED damageSlaughter floor
– the amount of trim wastage that will occur in removing the GSEED is estimated for the S/F and the boning pre-trim
5.3 Additional processing costs- The additional processing costs due to the reduction in the chain speed on the S/F or in the Boning Room are captured in the “GSEED Operational Costs” worksheet
5.4 Adjust HSCW and purchase price- On the S/F, the GSEED is removed prior to the scales, which will impact the HSCW depending on the severity of the GSEED damage
5.6 GSEED summary tables
-the costs and revenue associated with grass seed infestation are tabulated in the “GSEED Analysis” worksheet
- operational Analysis
- primal Region Summary
- primal Summary
5.7 User manual A comprehensive user manual has been written outlining the functionality of the Lamb Value Calculator. Please refer to “B.SCC.0179 – Lamb Value Calculator User Manual V6.2.docx”.
The Lamb Value Calculator GSEED module is underpinned by models and assumptions collected from a trial conducted within an Australian abattoir, that attempted to establish the relationship between the extra cost of processing and the incidence and proximity of GSEED damage.