University of Wyoming


Recent industry-wide evaluations have identified the critical challenge that over-fat-lambs pose to the industry, but have not to date quantified these losses within the packing sectors. We acknowledge the problem can be attributable to all aspects of the industry (e.g. producer, feedyard, packer), and the inherent seasonality of production in the U.S. Sheep Industry. Nevertheless, these fat-related losses culminate at the packing phase, and thereby provide an opportunity to quantify these losses at that point. Thus, we propose a pilot-study to quantify the economic losses due to overfat lambs at two packing plants in Colorado to provide baseline estimates of losses at the processing phase. We propose to accomplish this objective through within plant survey methods, data collection on the fabrication floor, and economic modeling. Thus, the anticipated outcome of the proposed research is to provide the U.S. sheep industry a quantitative assessment of what over-fat lamb is costing the meat processing sector as a basis for future assessments across other sheep industry sectors.
We propose a “phase 1” pilot-study to quantify the economic losses due to overfat lamb at the two of the major packing plans. To accomplish this objective, we will use survey methods, historical data analysis, and data collection on the fabrication floor. Thus, the anticipated outcome of the proposed research is to provide the U.S. sheep industry a quantitative assessment of what over-fat lamb is costing the meat processing sector. Specific Aims: • Collect carcass measurements to estimate quantity and distribution of yield grades during peak “fat-prone” harvesting periods. • Determine fat losses in cutout data and combined labor hours and other inputs related to trimming and disposing of fat • Economic modeling to determine industry costs and projected improvements

Study logistics and Packing Plant Coordination (Spring 2018): • Integration of research protocol with plant operations will be refined to ensure collection of data according to study design • Evaluation of necessary modeling and statistical components from data available

Packing Plant Data Collection and Analysis (May to September 2018):
Project participants will base research investigations within the Mountain States Rosen plant Greeley, CO, and Superior Farms plant in Denver, CO in coordination with plant personnel.
• Subsample lamb carcasses for objective measurement to accurately estimate distribution of yield grades during the season where harvest of fat lambs is most abundant • Follow a subsample of YG 2-5 through fabrication to determine relative trim loss. • Specifications for trimming primal cuts to determine 1. Labor hours/resources committed to trimming to a specified fat thickness 2. Determine cost of disposing of fat carcasses. 3. Price differentials according to specified levels of trim per cut 4. Analyze (where available) historical information to estimate additional cut out losses

Economic and Statistical Modeling (September 2018 to February 2019):
For all economic modeling a Monte Carlo approach will be utilized to look at a variety of economic scenarios (input/output price combinations) based on historical outcomes to determine the distribution of potential economic outcomes. From this we can look at what cost scenarios exist when distribution of YG 4 and 5’s varies, coupled with varying price structure discounts. Statistical analysis employed will include mixed linear models determine differences in cutout information and any historical data available for analysis. Distribution of actual measured yield grades and their correlation corresponding USDA grading data available will also be analyzed. Reporting-Anticipated Results (March to May 2019):
A technical report with study findings will be generated to discuss project outcomes in addition to a peer reviewed publication. Findings will also be shared with stakeholder audiences and committees at the American Sheep Industry Association meetings, and local state meetings. Once data has been interpreted and summarized for industry, key stakeholders will convene to evaluate future approaches in the lamb feeding and producer sectors.