Superior Farms, Sacramento, Calif., received USDA approval to begin grading carcasses with the VSS2000 System camera (electronic grading), what is said to be the first digital camera to be approved for use in the U.S. lamb industry. The new digital camera was installed in October 2015.

“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,” says Rick Stott, president and CEO. “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.”

This electronic grading system will provide detailed meat information about its lambs. 

“We will now be able to share this detailed information with producers through our producer portal.  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,” says Lesa Eidman, director of producer resources and sustainability. “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 U.S. lamb customers with the highest quality, most consistent product we can deliver.”

The next steps are first, to pair this information with the electronic identification (EID) tags, so that producers can see the data on an individual lamb basis, and second, to implement the technology in Superior Farms’ Denver, Colo., facility.

“Now that we have received approval from the USDA for the camera grading, we can begin implementing the technology in our Denver facility,” Stott says. “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.” 

The USDA grader will remain on-site to verify that the technology remains accurate and in line with the USDA grading standards.