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Improving Meat Standard Performance

23 January 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

Collaboration between Tasmanian cattle producers and a major processor has improved compliance with Meat Standards Australia (MSA)grading and helped create a brand that is synonymous with high quality beef.

MSA grading has proven to be a winning addition to the mix for the Greenham family’s processing plant at Smithton in north-west Tasmania since being incorporated into mix in 2007.

The family expanded the HW Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd processing company from Victoria, where it processes manufacturing grade beef, to Tasmania in 2001.

Sixth-generation processor Peter Greenham said the incorporation of MSA allowed the company to capitalise on Tasmania’s image by combining grassfed beef’s environmental credentials with the MSA stamp of eating quality.

“When we started grading for MSA we discovered we were getting a lot of carcases in the four best boning groups,” Mr Greenham said.

“It was an opportunity to market our beef as a premium product so we developed the Cape Grim label for grassfed bullocks in the MSA grading groups 1–4 and relaunched our Greenham Natural beef as MSA (grading groups 1–6).”

The Cape Grim brand is now associated with high end restaurants across Australia and in markets including Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and the US.

“MSA is a critical factor in maintaining this restaurant market, because it guarantees our clients a consistent product. Neil Perry charges between $50 and $80 for a Cape Grim steak, so MSA allows him to back our product and guarantee quality in every steak,” added Mr Greenham.

Greenhams currently process between 1,200 and 1,500 carcases a week for the main Cape Grim brand.

The ideal animal for Greenhams is a 0–2 tooth, 300–340kg Angus or Hereford steer with a marble score of 2+, which can be channelled into either label.

Cape Grim beef needs an MSA boning group of 1 to 4, so MSA science is used to screen carcases for the key traits of marbling, colour and consistent tenderness.

Greenhams recently achieved 90.6 per cent MSA compliance – a factor Peter attributes to strong relationships with the 1,000 producers who supply more than 70,000 head each year to the Smithton plant.

MSA on-farm requirements for all cattle

  • Producers must be registered with MSA to supply cattle for grading
  • Cattle are to be slaughtered no later than the day after dispatch
  • Do not consign cattle that exhibit secondary sexual characteristics, have been severely sick or injured or are of poor temperament
  • All cattle must reside on the property of dispatch for a minimum of 30 days prior to dispatch
  • An MSA Vendor Declaration must be delivered with the cattle, with declarations now available through the LPA Vendor Declaration login

Recommendations to maximise grading compliance

  • Cattle should be on a rising plane of nutrition for the last 30 days prior to slaughter
  • Cattle are recommended to be managed as a single mob for a minimum of 14 days prior to dispatch for slaughter, this includes no mixing or drafting
  • Cattle to have access to water outside of transport
  • Handle and muster animals quietly to reduce stress
  • Load cattle quietly, preferably with no use of goads and electric prodders
  • Cattle to have access to feed prior to dispatch

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