Superior Farms
Superior Farms says this will be the first digital camera of its kind used in the lamb industry. 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Superior Farms has been approved by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to start using an electronic grading system on its animals. The VSS2000 System digital camera is the first of its kind to be approved for use in the US lamb industry. Superior Farms has been working since October 2015 to secure approval for the camera’s use. 

“Our team worked closely with the USDA for two years validating the camera’s algorithms to assure accurate full carcass measurements of both yield and quality grades,” said Superior Farms President and CEO Rick Stott. “Combining electronic grading with our producer portal will allow unprecedented access to carcass information by our producer partners that will allow every segment of our industry to continue to produce a better product.”

The electronic grading system will provide Superior Farms producers detailed meat information about their lambs. “We will now be able to share this detailed information with producers through our Producer Portal,” said Lesa Eidman, director of producer resources and sustainability for Superior Farms. “This information includes the USDA Yield Grade and Quality Grade, as well as the Ovine Cutability Calculation (OCC), the primal weights (leg, loin, shoulder, rack, breast, trotters, and neck) and two digital images of each lamb carcass processed. 

“This technology will provide our producers with an unprecedented amount of information about the meat and carcass characteristics of their lambs. Ultimately, producers will be able to make genetic and production changes to provide US lamb customers with the highest quality, most consistent product we can deliver,” Eidman added. 

Now that the system has been approved, Superior Farms can now pair the information with the Electronic Identification (EID) tags so that producers can see the data on an individual lamb basis.  Next, Superior will roll out the new technology at its Denver facility.  

“We look forward to working with the USDA to expedite the approval process so that both of our facilities have this state-of-the-art technology,” Stott said.

The American Lamb Board funded the electronic grading research conducted by The Center for Meat Safety and Quality, Dept. of Animal Sciences, Colorado State Univ. In the study titled, “Industry Implications and Economics of Implementation of Lamb Instrument Grading,” CSU researchers concluded: “… unprecedented information about lamb carcass composition and value will be collected and available. True production management decisions can be made by US sheep producers with conveyance of product attributes of harvested lambs.”