QMS launches virtual farming tool
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has unveiled a free online tool for livestock farmers which will help them to boost their bottom line by improving livestock selection and management for slaughter.
Developed by QMS and launched at this year’s online AgriScot event, the practical ‘Meat the Grade’ virtual tool will highlight key factors that need to be considered by farmers to ensure that livestock meet target carcase specifications required by processors and consumers.
Beth Alexander, QMS cattle and sheep specialist, said that the tool will provide producers with the skills and knowledge to maximise their returns and minimise the risk of condemnations and carcase downgrades.
“Our aim is to help Scotland’s livestock farmers optimise their returns and understand carcase grading, and presentation to ensure they hit the correct specification for their chosen market. Hitting target specifications means more return for the producer and less waste for the processor.
“The ‘Meat the Grade’ tool will demonstrate how the EUROP grading system works as well as providing valuable market driven insights to stock selection, carcase specification and grading techniques to ensure that livestock meet target carcase specifications required by processors and therefore maximise the best price for farmers.”
Developed to complement the successful face-to-face Meat the Market events held earlier in the year; ‘Meat the Grade’ will allow farmers to access the same information from the comfort of the farm office 24/7.
“Although focusing on cost of production is fundamental to improving farm profitability, there are opportunities to maximise returns through careful selection and presentation of stock.”
The tool will also give producers an opportunity to learn more about the whole supply chain, the hygiene requirements, and insight into the products consumers want to buy.
Approximately 40% of lambs and 20-30% of cattle failed to meet market specifications in 2018, with overfat and overweight being two of the most common reasons for ‘out of spec’ carcases.
Adrian Crowe, South East of England divisional manager from Meat & Livestock Commercial Services Ltd (MLCSL) – the only independent provider of abattoir authentication and classification services to the British processing industry – has worked alongside the QMS industry development team to facilitate Meat the Market workshops.
Crowe highlighted how the tool will help farmers understand stock selection based on handling them correctly to assess fat cover.
“Many farmers will select stock based on what they weigh and, although they may receive good conformation grades, many will find they are not achieving the correct fat class.
“The tool will demonstrate to farmers ways they can select stock by handling them to assess fat cover and conformation to help hit market specifications.”
Bruce McConachie, QMS head of industry development, said: “Although focusing on cost of production is fundamental to improving farm profitability, there are opportunities to maximise returns through careful selection and presentation of stock.
“This may mean producers are not hitting the maximum price per head each time but can help increase the gap between the cost of production and the income from livestock sales.”