The Alliance Group has installed a new grading system in its abattoirs to improve production yields and feedback to suppliers. The Via Scan is placed at the end of the slaughter chain to measure lamb carcases.
It consists of a camera housed in a booth close to the carcase weighing scales. The photographic image is enhanced by a tower of lights within the booth. The carcase passes along the chain through a number of guide rails that ensure the appropriate presentation of the carcase to the camera.
An image is taken of the back of the carcase and this image is stored on a computer.
The image is then analysed on the basis of colouration and density of colour and an appropriate prediction of yield is made. The prediction of each carcase is made from an equation developed after detailed analysis of 100,000 carcases that were initially trialed.
Dave Richards, sales manager for the Group, said the system allows for clearer and more objective feedback to farmer suppliers and better returns to producers that consistently produce higher yielding carcases. In addition it improves selection of carcases to yield higher value cuts and offers better carcase assessments to assist with genetic improvement programmes.
Mr Richards said: "Although this system has been developed to improve production yields and provide feedback to suppliers, we see potentially benefits in providing our customers with cuts that more specifically meet their requirements in terms of conformation (fat cover), size and shape."