Intercollegiate Meat Judging Part 2

On Wednesday we had the official opening in the morning before the days lectures started, first up was a overview of the Australian Meat Industry by Ben Thomas from MLA before a introduction into meat science by Dr Peter McGilchrist from the MLA and a talk on southern lamb production by Tom Bull from Lambpro. Following the mid-morning break we received a talk on research opportunities in the meat industry from Dr Alex Ball and a talk on the pork processing sector from Professor Robert van Barneveld from the Pork CRC where he asked a question that really got us thinking ” Can you name another industry where the consumer is trying to push it back two hundred years?” This question got us thinking about future challenges and how we are meant to balance consumer demands with the practicalities of feeding the world.

After lunch we spilt into groups and attended a range of workshops including  one on livestock marketing and the importance of market specs given by Delta Ag, The workshops also covered flavour and MSA testing of primals as well as one on lamb carcase yield where the difference in profit of two carcasses was worked out. But what I thought was the most interesting demonstration was the workshop on value adding through muscle seaming, this work shop showed us how to extract tender muscles from otherwise not so tender primals. This workshop was quite a display and I only wish that I could remember the techniques used better than I can as it all looked quite good. That night we had dinner a great dinner at the Wagga RSL thanks to Murray Valley Pork.

Our first lecture on Thursday was by Andrina and Lachlan Graham from Argyle Prestige meats and was about the vertical integration of their business, as they not only grow the livestock but slaughter, process and market as well. Tess Herbert from ALFA then spoke about beef feedlotting industry and Grant Garey from Teys Australia spoke about the beef processing sector. After the morning break we were told about the lamb processing sector by Paul Leonard from Thomas Foods International before gaining a insight into what it is like to supply the world largest food service operator, McDonald’s. This interesting and informative talk was given by Andrew Brazier from MAC, McDonald’s meat supplier.

The workshops after lunch were training sessions for the different types of judging we would have to complete over the next few days, this included pork carcases and primals where the visitors from Texas show’d haw to judge pork primals. Other categories that we went over included judging lamb carcases, identification of primals and retail cuts, MSA eating quality class and how to effectively write out our reasoning in the written reasons class. Dinner that night was again at the RSL and sponsored by AAco.

On Friday morning we received a lecture on live export and the animal welfare improvements that are occurring in the industry while we were having having breakfast. After breakfast we rotated through the careers expo, a workshop on interview and resume skills as well a workshop on ways agriculture could meet environmental challenges and reduce our carbon footprint.

After lunch the competition began with the small stock competition beginning, the small stock competition involved judging lamb and pork carcasses, a retail cuts class and a written reasons class. This seemed to go alright but only time would tell, after this we again had dinner at the RSL eating a wonderfully delicious lamb rack supplied by sponsors.

Then at 6am on Saturday morning the main competition began as we arrived at the abattoirs for our beef judging competition.  We were in the chillers from 7:30 through to 11:00 completing primal judging, pricing classes, eating quality for both domestic and export beef. By the end of the day we had three members of team UNE in the top ten and moving on to the next round that is still to come in Brisbane.

The 2013 ICMJ competition was a great experience and I look forward to competing next year, I would like to thank our coaches from UNE for taking us there and Teys Cargill for the warm jackets that we wore into the chillers.


Intercollegiate Meat Judging Part 1

The morning frost numbed my fingers as I try’d to open the torno cover on the back my of my ute to get the gumboots out that I would need to be able to enter the Cargill Teys Wagga abattoir later in week. By 6am on this frosty Armidale Monday morning everyone had gathered in the car park between the colleges, the bags were packed into the trailer, the  bus was loaded and we were off for the 2013 Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) competition in Wagga Wagga.

The ICMJ is held each year and draws people from all over Australian and the world and while its primary purpose is a competition to see how well students are judging carcasses on there eating quality, profitability and pricing. There are also a series of talks during the week covering the different area’s of the Australian meat industry such as Pork, Lamb, Beef and the retailers perspective.

We arrived Monday night had a good dinner at the pub then went back to Charles Sturt University (CSU) where we were staying. The next morning we had a quick breakfast at Maccas before heading out to the abattoir for a tour of the boning room and to practice judging on the carcasses in the chillers. We were lucky enough to have the “Young Farming Champion” Jasmine Nixon give us the tour of the plant and the sheer size of boning room just blew us all away.

After touring the boning room and the chillers we went to have a look at the a their water treatment plant behind the abattoir where we were able to see the various stages of how the water was processed. The first stage of the process was the anaerobic ponds where bacteria helped to break down minerals and waste in the water while tarps covering the top  of the ponds collected the methane that was emitted, this was then burnt of to cut emissions. However they do have a plan to either turn it into put in place a electrical generator or use it to heat their boiler. The next stage of the process was the aerobic pond where the water was aerated to help to further break down wastes and purify the water, after this the water is either used to wash down holding yards, used in irrigation or discharged to the council facility for further treatment. This process also creates a lot of sludge that needs to be dealt with so it is extracted from the ponds and is dried by having the water forced out of it by a press before being collected by a person who turns it into compost for there own private use.

After visiting the abattoir we went to Knight’s Butchery in Wagga where we were shown around their shop and were able to learn how they operated as well as the importance of value adding. Knights meats has a range of product lines including their “wholesale” meats which were like the packaged meat that you buy off the shelf at Woolworths, there was also their value added section and their deli. This was a great part of trip and we all learned a great deal from it.

Later that night we had the meet and greet dinner at CSU and were able to meet the wide range people of people that were at the ICMJ. People had come from all over Australia, their were two teams from the USA and teams from South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan as well as person from Zambia who was with the Adelaide University team. These were a great bunch people and it was great to get to know them better as the week went on. We were soon in bed eager for the following days lectures.

As it was a long week and much was done this is just part one of a two part post, I’ll hopefully have the second part up by Sunday.

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