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.