Martyn Jones and Jim McLarenMorrisons, Britain’s 4th largest retailer, is trialling prototype technology in its Aberdeenshire meat plant which will see Scottish farmers become the first in the world to receive detailed quality performance data on every sheep via the animals’ electronic ear tags.
The retailer is working closely with Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish red meat industry body, and ScotEID, the Scottish Government funded livestock traceability company, to test new equipment in its Turriff abattoir. If successful, it will put the final, missing piece in the jigsaw that can help farmers take advantage of EID to make breeding decisions at farm level based on performance evidence.
Morrisons Agriculture Manager, Louise Welsh, said: “As Scotland’s largest processor of lambs we are delighted to work with the industry to develop an in plant system that can take an accurate supply of performance data from the individual carcase right back to farm level.
“We’re confident we can crack this and help our farmer suppliers maximise the potential offered by the introduction of EID tagging. Not only can it improve their efficiency, it can also help further improve the quality of the lamb that we sell in our stores.”
Jim McLaren, Quality Meat Scotland Chairman, said: “This initiative, which advances the technology to a stage where individual ear tag numbers can be linked to carcase weights and grades, is a major step forward for farmers interested in finding out what their returns are from specific breeds or breeding lines.
“This will help to improve the efficiency of the Scottish sheep industry and producers’ bottom lines by giving them information they have never had easy access to previously.”
Ian Watson, Chairman of Farmstock (Scotland Ltd), Scotland’s largest lamb cooperative and major supplier to Morrisons said: “This is really exciting news and without doubt has the potential to transform the way we manage our sheep breeding programmes. If Morrisons’ trial is successful, for the first time Scottish sheep farmers will be able to select breeding stock that are consistently delivering high quality lambs at the abattoir.”
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