Wingham Beef Exports red meat pilot trial

Meat Inspectors red meat pilot trial

Key points

  • This project enabled Meat Inspectors to provide animal health and disease inspection information to two of their processor clients covering beef, goat, sheep and lamb to evaluate the value of providing this data to their suppliers.
  • The study found that a shift to electronic collection and reporting systems for recording meat inspection data will save time and increase data accuracy.
  • The two trials conducted showed the potential benefit of electronic collection and analysis of animal health data for the purposes of a national targeted animal health audit to help prioritise investment in education and mitigation programs.


The purpose of this project was to support Meat Inspectors Pty Ltd to develop their systems to record animal health and disease condition in small stock species on lot/consignment basis, and to develop and implement producer feedback reports.

Meat Inspectors is uniquely positioned to record disease and defect data as an independent employer of Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs) providing independent inspection services to Australian meat processors.

This project provided Meat Inspectors (MI) with the opportunity to work with two of their processor clients covering beef, sheep and lamb and goat processing to demonstrate the value they could offer in the sharing and utilizing of animal disease and defect data. 

The project was part of the red meat pilot trials for the Rural Research & Development for Profit project Health 4 Wealth.

While many meat processing recording systems are already in place, data collection and feedback available on disease-related carcase and offal condemnations varies considerably. The Health 4 Wealth project aims to introduce a standardised, comprehensive approach to data collection and feedback on disease-related carcase and offal condemnations. This will allow producers to monitor disease prevalence in their livestock and make informed decisions to maximise yield outcomes.


The objective of the Meat Inspectors animal disease data pilot studies project was:

  1. To demonstrate that lot-based animal health and disease data can be effectively and efficiently transferred to producers.
  2. To demonstrate that animal health data can be correlated to an individual animal where individual ID is present.
  3. Provide animal health and disease inspection information to producers to assist them in making better informed decisions regarding on-farm practices to improve livestock/carcase performance.
  4. To provide learnings that can be incorporated into the wider Health 4 Wealth project.


The pilot trial was designed to include the following key components:

  1. Standardising recording of agreed conditions
  2. Amending existing systems to enable standardised defect and diseases to be recorded
  3. Designing new and/or upgrading existing reporting systems
  4. Identifying infrastructure and hardware required
  5. Training of meat inspectors
  6. Validating that the data being collected was correct (Data validation)
  7. Soft launch of animal health information within the processor supply chain.


The role of Meat Inspectors in the project was slightly different to the other Health 4 Wealth red meat pilot trials because the company is not directly involved in the purchase or sale of product along the supply chain.  It does however deliver independent inspection services to processors as an independent employer of Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs) to satisfy importing market requirements for Australian Government health certification.  As such, it is uniquely positioned as an expert in the identification, recording and analysis of carcase disease and defects and the provision of these services to the processing sector.  The MI business operates in meat processing establishments across four states and has an intimate understanding of meat inspection and its role within processing plants and is positioned to provide value-added services to its meat inspection role.

Key findings from the project of value to the business and supply chain were that:

  • Close engagement with all stakeholders is imperative when setting up a disease and condition feedback systems within a processing plant. Stakeholders have varying needs and wants in relation to understanding the impacts of diseases and defects and animal health feedback.
  • Significant costs are involved to upgrade IT systems to allow for electronic capture of inspection data in small stock plants.
  • The development and implementation of hardware for use in the harsh environment of an abattoir slaughter-floor can be a significant challenge.
  • Within Australia there is a shortage of software programmers with experience in the meat processing sector.
  • The Draft Australian National Standard for the Development, Collection and Reporting of Animal Health Data can be simplified into a specific Data Dictionary to improve communication and training to meat inspection personnel.
  • The type of livestock production system supplying a processor influences the usefulness of disease and condition feedback from the processors to its suppliers.
  • When considering the establishment of a feedback system for animal health, consideration should be given to the ability and potential use of this information to the given supply chain.
  • Very small slaughter lots are typical of production systems in southern Australia. This increases the challenge of producer education and limits the ability to significantly improve animal health performance across the whole supply chain.  Implementing change, particularly through production systems where livestock production is not necessarily the primary source of income (and in many cases, is a sideline or opportunistic) presents significant challenges.
  • The ability for an information flow from some small stock procurement models in Australia may be managed on a mob or lot basis, which means there are very limited opportunities for providing feedback to the original supplier on animal health performance through the supply chain.

Benefits to industry

The transition from paper-based systems for recording meat inspection data to electronic collection and reporting systems can result in immediate savings in terms of time and accuracy.

In addition, there are direct benefits gained from reduced offal and carcase downgrades resulting from sourcing better performing livestock.

A potentially significant benefit from the electronic collection and analysis of animal health data is the ability to conduct a targeted animal health audit on a regular and national basis. The results from these audits could be used to quantify and prioritise investment in education and mitigation programs. This means that while animal health feedback to some small stock producers may not be feasible, significant benefits to this important industry can be achieved by the electronic capture and analysis of animal health information on a lot/mob basis including regional variations.  

Useful resources

Health 4 Wealth Rural Research and Development for Profit 

Rural Research and Development for Profit 

More information on Livestock Data Link