The introduction of reward payments based on video-imaging technology, under the new ‘WAMMCO SELECT’ label for high yielding lambs, was billed today as another major advance for WA producer members by WAMMCO chairman, Dawson Bradford.
Mr Bradford said the system enabled WAMMCO to identify lamb carcases with lean meat yields in the top 15 percent of all crossbred lambs, and to reward the producer with a 5 percent premium, representing more than $5 per carcase in some consignments.
He said premium payments to WAMMCO producers began in January, making WA and Victoria the only two Australian States where lambs could be sold using similar technology.
“We believe WAMMCO Select to be unique in Australia, in that it offers our producer members a bonus with no downside risk. WAMMCO also sees the new payment system as an important development in improving productivity within WA’s prime lamb industry.
“It is now just under a decade since this cooperative changed its policy from seasonal, high volume processing, to year-round, high value lamb production. The response from producers has seen a remarkable upgrade in prime lamb genetics, nutrition and management,” he said.
The quantum shift to heavier lambs enabled WAMMCO to enter and develop valuable supply partnerships in the United States.
“Being able to provide accurate feedback on high yielding lambs to producers, has added a valuable breeding tool for them, as well as assisting the cooperative to offer increasing quantities of high value lamb product to its global customers.”
Mr Bradford said Professor David Pethick of Murdoch University had been integrally involved with WAMMCO’s ‘supply chain’ officer Rob Davidson and the staff at Katanning in adapting the ViaScan technology over the past five years.
“There were early teething problems with calibrating the system to improve accuracy and with justifying the costs and benefits. At times, WAMMCO had serious doubts about continuing with the project.
“MLA, Murdoch, CRC and service providers SASTEK/Cedar Creek were all closely involved with us in adapting the technology to ensure that it could benefit producers as well as meeting WAMMCO’s own processing goals.
“We are using Cedar Creek systems based on ViaScan imaging technology for predicting lean meat yield.
“WAMMCO directors and staff are now confident that WAMMCO SELECT will play a valuable role in encouraging continuing improvement within the lamb production industry and in assisting the cooperative to promote WA lamb worldwide.”
WAMMCO chief executive officer Des Griffiths said the WAMMCO Select premium would apply to carcases in the 18.1kg – 22kg range, and above 22 kg where yields were greater than 33.5 percent and 32.6 percent respectively. Yields were measured for the loin and the leg, the two most valuable cuts exported to the US.
Since the introduction of WAMMCO Select in January 2009, more than 22 percent of lambs delivered to Katanning on the daily schedule, or under contract, had attracted the premium.
“WAMMCO Select will be of most benefit to lamb producers who invest in finishing their lambs,” he said.
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