Yield-grading system being used for venison

VIAscan technology measures the meat on a deer carcass, less the fat and bone, to capture yield...
VIAscan technology measures the meat on a deer carcass, less the fat and bone, to capture yield performance levels. Photo from Alliance Group.
Meat-processing company Alliance Group is extending its yield-grading system to include venison.

The company has been involved with a deer progeny test, an initiative for the deer industry, which was launched last year and is based at Invermay in Mosgiel, and Whiterock Station in the Rangitata Gorge.

Deer from that project will be killed at Alliance Group's Makarewa plant in Southland in October, the first to utilise the yield-grading technology before it is provided to commercial clients.

The VIAscan technology measures the meat, less the fat and bone, to capture yield performance levels.

Along with providing suppliers with the opportunity to improve returns, VIAscan also aligned farmers with current market information and helped them with decision-making and the selection of good genetics, Alliance Group's livestock general manager Murray Behrent said.

The technology, installed in eight Alliance plants, has been analysing sheep meat since 2003.

Extending it to venison illustrated the company's commitment to innovation, Mr Behrent said.

"Exceptional product-quality and food-safety standards are vital for Alliance Group's export markets.

"We're targeting high-end consumers with discerning palates, who rate meat quality highly when making purchasing decisions, and VIAscan helps our suppliers produce the quality livestock that is required."

The technology took an image of the whole carcass and uses complex algorithms to compare the shape and colour profile of the carcass with a large database of boning trial results.

It then divided the carcass into three primal areas - leg, middle and shoulder - and reported a meat yield result for each.

Alliance Group had identified an ideal market weight range and yield for each area of the carcass.

Kill sheets would provide a profile showing how each herd performed against those ideal market requirements, he said.

It would also mean suppliers could measure the performance of individual carcasses, particularly when the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (Nait) was introduced for deer next year.

A new venison processing facility at the Smithfield plant in Timaru will use the technology later in the year.


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