UNITED KINGDOM, Gloucestershire. A new research and development project involving the beef industry, scientists and precision engineering companies aim to enhance returns for beef producers while helping processors become more efficient.
Optibeef will drive improvements in the productivity, quality and the sustainability of beef production by improving the accuracy of current methods of abattoir carcass grading and creating the first platform for integrating data from ‘calf to carcass’.
In the abattoir, the system will use new technology – 3D imaging and fat sensing – to provide a more accurate and detailed measurement of carcasses and their components. On-farm technologies will be developed for ‘whole-life’ monitoring of individual animals, including advanced 3D cameras, novel fat sensing, automated weighing and feed intake recording.
The integration of the data gathered on-farm and in the abattoir will shed more light on the factors influencing carcass yield and drive improvements in product quality and consistency. Using this information, farmers will in turn be able to make informed decisions to optimise nutrition, health and welfare, slaughter selections and genetic selections.
The lead partner is Hallmark Veterinary and Compliance Services. Hallmark recently acquired the UK’s independent carcass classification business, MLCSL (Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited) from AHDB. Hallmark will work with Scotbeef; SRUC; Innovent Technology Limited; National Physical Laboratory; Harbro; Hectare Agritech and Ritchie Ltd. and Agri-EPI Centre to deliver Optibeef over the next three years.
The three-year project has won funding of £1.7 Mill. from UK Research and Innovation, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, as part of a package to support ‘Productive and Sustainable Crop and Ruminant Agricultural Systems’.