Murdoch Associate Professor recognised for advancements in lamb meat research

May 18, 2018

Innovation rewarded: The DEXA x-ray meat grading system, which was developed by Professor Graham Gardner pictured, is significantly improving the profit margin for the Australian sheep meat industry.

A Murdoch University Professor’s role in developing an x-ray system for grading the quality of lamb meat has been acknowledged with an Award for Excellence in Innovation by the Cooperative Research Centres Association.

Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Toxicology and Nutrition, Graham Gardner, attended the awards ceremony in Sydney this week as one of the key collaborators on developing the DEXA system, which in conjunction with automated cutting, is estimated to deliver $420 million per annum of extra value for the red meat industry.

“The DEXA system, which stands for 'Dual Energy X-ray Absorbtiometry' uses x-rays to determine how much, bone, muscle and fat is in a sheep carcase, while keeping up with abattoir chain speed,” Professor Gardner said.

“In Australia, the bulk of lamb producers currently trade their lamb on the basis on carcase weight, but this can vary a great deal in the amount of saleable meat that’s in them – so in effect at retail, they’re actually very different in value.

"What DEXA allows processors to do, is to measure the amount of saleable meat in a carcase and as such their value in the market, enabling supply-chains to tailor their prices accordingly.”

The DEXA system also provides sheep farmers with analytics to gain a deeper understanding of which diet and genetic selection will yield the leanest and highest quality meat from their livestock.

This allows them to maximise the value from their sheep through greater amounts of saleable meat per carcase and a reduction in overfat carcases, which currently cost farmers in wasted nutrition, as well as abattoirs in labour required to trim off excess fat in order to meet consumer expectations.

“Australian sheep meat and lamb is a premium product, and DEXA assists sheep farmers to produce the best possible product they can for their consumers,” Professor Gardner said.

“The holy grail for the Australian sheep meat industry is to really enable the producers to be paid for the weight and the eating quality of the meat that consumers actually buy.

“This project is a great example of quality research by the team here at Murdoch done in direct collaboration with commercial end-users, meaning that as soon as the work was complete we had seamless adoption of the research into industry.”

DEXA systems are currently being installed in lamb and beef processing facilities across Australia, with the impact of the innovation expected to continue increasing as the value of accurate information on carcase composition is captured by all sectors of Australia’s red meat industry.

The Award For Excellence in Innovation was presented to Cooperative Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) on behalf of all the DEXA collaborators and financiers, which included: Murdoch University School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Scott Automation and Robotics, JBS Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, Coles, and Australian Meat Processor Corporation, AgBiz Solutions, South Australian Research and Development Institute; and the Victorian Department of Economic Development.


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Comments (One response)


Well done Graham, a great story for Murdoch and VLS. world leading research will drive our reputation

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