A skin cleanliness scoring system has been developed to identify sheep that pose the highest risk of carcase contamination.
The three-point scoring system – developed with funding from MLA – subjectively classifies lambs destined for slaughter as either low, medium or high risk of contamination.
The scoring system differentiates between breech 'dag’ contamination, wool length, wool wetness and contamination along key cutting lines which will adversely affect carcase hygiene.
Excessively wet and dirty fleece on sheep and lambs can cause microbiological contamination of carcases post-slaughter which may pose serious health risks to humans.
The likelihood of contamination can be predicted by visual appraisal of the level of soiling of a fleece, with dirtier skins resulting in a higher probability of contamination.
Three processing plants, from Victoria, South Australia and WA, and their assessors were involved in the development of the scoring system to ensure it was able to be used industry and nationwide.
Lambs were assessed on-farm, pre and post transport at saleyards and at lairage at the processing works.
Assessments of skin cleanliness were made in order to determine the following points:
•Is there a high degree of correlation between the skin cleanliness score of a pen of lambs when scored at different points in the supply chain?
•Is it possible for assessors to consistently assess the same pen of lambs on consecutive occasions?
•Is there significant variation between assessors when assessing the same pen of lambs?
Due to the fact that the assessment of lambs at one point in the chain accurately reflects their cleanliness at another level, it is possible to use this assessment method as a direct feedback tool to producers.
Download the final report on the skin cleanliness scoring system
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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