American Lamb Board: The Road to Future Consumers Requires Transparency through Traceability

The American Lamb Board (ALB) continuously works to create more demand for U.S. Lamb by gaining a better understanding of the needs of current and future consumers. Providing a consistent and high-quality product that meets the desires of specific consumer audiences is the cornerstone for American Lamb demand. This demand led to the important topic discussed at the American Lamb Summit of understanding carcass quality traits and transparency through traceability.

The tools and technologies available to improve the traceability of value traits and increase feedback related to carcass quality throughout the supply chain were explored during the 2019 American Lamb Summit, sponsored by the American Lamb Board and Premier 1 Supplies.

“It’s important to take opportunities to add value to U.S. Lamb by adding production information that follows a product all the way through the system. You allow consumers to be more informed and aligned with farmers and ranchers,” Keith Belk, Ph.D., CSU Department Head of Animal Sciences said, who moderated the Lamb Summit traceability session.

Blockchain technology, which allows for multiple parties to contribute to an animal’s individual data all the way through the system, opens the doors for traceability as never before, Rob Jennings said, CEO of BeefChain. “It is the foundation for being able to tell your story as an individual and as an entire industry.”

For example, an animal with an electronic ID tag can be added into a blockchain by the producer, who includes data about vaccinations, antibiotic use, and days on grass. The feeder can add information. Then, the packer can add data about carcass quality. A blockchain can even include data related to sustainability. It opens doors for production improvement, meat quality, and profitability measurements as never before.

Henry Zerby, Ph.D., was upfront with Summit participants from his perspective as both a sheep producer and vice president of Protein Procurement and Innovation for Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc., which represents Wendy’s franchise restaurants. “Traceability and trust are incredibly important for us to win market share for our animal proteins. If you’re not willing to look at traceability and blockchain technology and have a level of understanding, you need to rethink your role in the meat industry long term.”

Flock54 from Superior Farms is an example of a new farm-to-packer program for traceability. Its DNA panel provides parentage determination plus single gene traits for fertility, disease resistance, fleece variation and muscling. EID tags are used to track each animal.

Lesa Eidman, Director of Producer Resources and Sustainability for Superior Farms, explained how it transforms information exchange. “Through the use of the Flock54 DNA panel,  EID tags, the camera grading system at the harvest facility, and the producer’s website portal, there is full transparency on individual lamb performance from birth to harvest as well as lot performance.” This complete feedback loop for the packer, feeder, producer and seedstock owners provides the potential to improve production efficiencies, genetics, and management for increased profit margin.

Information from the 2019 American Lamb Summit can be found on the Lamb Resource Center website: The Lamb Checkoff Facebook page is also a great resource so be sure to like and follow.

For More Information

·       Understanding Carcass Quality and Traceability presentation slides

·       Watch Henry Zerby’s presentation courtesy of Premier 1 Supplies

·       Watch the recap of Lamb Summit traceability session by Dr. Keith Belk


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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