Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers

AQF Education Series – AMP Training Package focus

These workers skills and training are covered by the AMP Australian Meat Processing Training Package, there are a number of these packages and we will explore what is involved and offered by this training.

Meat Industry Background
When immigrants first came to Australia, there were no farms or crops to harvest and live on, so initially people shot and eat animals to survive, they built farms and grew animals and agriculture. Today the industry is worth over $17 Billion and Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of red meat and livestock. Approximately 350,000 people are involved either directly in the supply chain or in businesses that service the industry. The Australian domestic market is the industry’s largest single market. Over 70% of red meat production is exported to 110 countries worldwide. The Australian production system is diverse, offering a wide variety of products to customers and consumers. Products range from high-quality, tenderness-guaranteed eating products, to hides and pharmaceutical ingredients.

So what are the opportunities in this stable industry, what is it like to work here and what is required to become a worker in this industry. The industry is very customer focused, with Wahyu beef production for Korean and Japan, Halal meat for Muslim countries and especially the middle east, for lamb, mutton, got as well as beef. Australian red eat has an enviable reputation for quality, being disease free and consistently top class quality.

The weather cycles affect the number of animals available and the growing time means it is not a short term business, farmers have invested heavily in property and facilities and production and storage facilities have grown to match the demands. With the time of draught causing farmers to unload their stock market meat prices drop, little is passed onto the consumer though as freezing and storage takes up a lot of the volume. Then as the drought ends and rain comes the farmers hang onto their stock to build up the numbers again. Delaying and levelling out the supply.

Meat boning room work
Meat Boning Room work

Meat wholesaling
The Meat Industry is sectored into wholesaling sector which is actually growing made up primarily made up of boning rooms and establishments servicing the hospitality industry. These establishments supply restaurants, fast-food outlets, food chains, hotels, airlines, and supermarkets and also fill niche markets, making specific products, such as portion control products, organic meat products, native meat products, meat patties, pizza toppings, meat products with health benefits, kebabs, and trimmed and pre-packed shelf-ready trays of meat.

Key figures Meat boning & Slaughtering

Australia is one of the world’s leading producers of lamb and mutton, the largest exporter of mutton and live sheep, and second largest exporter of lamb. The Australian public are among the biggest consumers of lamb in the world. Australia in fact produces a large range of meats including Beef and veal, Sheep, Goat, Pork, and other animals such as kangaroos, possums, crocodiles and emus, and introduced animals such as feral goats, horses and pigs, are the basis of a significant commercial industry. Where they can be harvested humanely and, in the case of native animals, sustainably, wild animals can be profitable supplements or alternatives to domestic animals. Their commercial use can also contribute to pest management objectives.

Meat retailing
Meat retailers in Australia include traditional independent butchers, supermarkets, butcher shop chains, and gourmet and specialist retail meat outlets.

There is a Meat Standards Association (MSA) is a beef and sheep meat eating quality program designed to take the guesswork out of buying and cooking Australian red meat. MSA involves all sectors of the supply chain from paddock to plate. A wide range of cattle and sheep management practices, processing systems, cuts, ageing periods and cooking methods have been researched to determine the impact each has on eating quality.

Age distribution of Boning & Slaughtering workforce
Meat processing work

Let’s take a look at what is required to start in this industry as a worker.

There is some State and Territory legislation also involved, covering local regulations and controls due to different conditions within the states.

Qualifications, skill sets and units of competency
The AMP Australian Meat Packaging Training Package contains:
• 25 AQF aligned qualifications
• 60 skill sets
• 447 native units of competency

WHS implications in the industry
Work health and safety (WHS) requirements can be quite onerous and difficult as a lot of manual work is performed and there is significant risk of injury, so the practice is to be safe and take care. The requirements in training are covered either by:
• embedding requirements in the elements/performance criteria of units of competency
• including specific WHS units in qualifications.

Legal considerations for learners in the workplace/on placements
Legal requirements that apply to specific industries and VET vary across each State and Territory, and can regularly change. Contact the relevant State or Territory Department/s to check if legal requirements apply and for confirmation is required for these general guidelines.

Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers have also some specialisations such as:
• Meat Boner and Slicer

•  Trims and cuts meat from bones, sides and carcasses.
•  Meat Trimmer
• Slaughterer
Stuns and kills livestock, and prepares carcasses for further processing by removing internal organs and hides.
Specialisations: Stunner and Shackler (Abattoir)

Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers trim and cut meat from bones, sides and carcasses, and slaughter livestock in abattoirs.

Qualification required: A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary.

Most Abattoirs and meat works have trainers imbedded in their staff and operations to ensure they keep their staff skilled and up to date with how they need them to work.

• operating switching controls to direct and drop carcasses and meat cuts from supply rails to boning tables
• cutting meat to separate meat, fat and tissue from around bones
• washing, scraping and trimming foreign material and blood from meat
• cutting sides and quarters of meat into standard meat cuts, such as rumps, flanks and shoulders, and removing internal fat, blood clots, bruises and other matter to prepare them for packing and marketing
• operating restraining and stunning equipment
• severing jugular veins of stunned animals to drain blood and facilitate dressing
• trimming and removing head meat and severing animal heads
• slitting open, eviscerating and trimming animal carcasses
• may slaughter livestock according to procedures required by religious customs


Knife work

Prospects for Employment
The number of Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers grew moderately over the past 5 years and is expected to grow strongly over the next 5 years: from 11,100 in 2017 to 12,500 by 2022.
There are likely to be around 9,000 job openings over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created (a large number for an occupation of this size).

• Size: This is a small occupation.
• Unemployment: Unemployment was above average in 2017.
• Location: Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers work in many regions of Australia. Many work in Queensland.
• Industries: They work in many industries such as Manufacturing; Retail Trade; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.
• Earnings: Full-time workers earn around $1,252 per week (similar to the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
• Full-time: Most work full-time (90.7%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%) showing part-time work may be hard to find.
• Hours: Full-time workers spend around 37.2 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
• Age: The average age is 33 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Many workers are under 25 years of age (24.4%).
• Gender: 12.1% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

In conclusion, if you are fit, and strong there is steady and on going work for meat workers. It is possible to gain the basic skills to start with quite short courses and then start work in an Abattoir. Once you become known, as a good hard worker, then ongoing work and support will follow.

EMR organises such training get in contact today to find out what we can do to help you.

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