ICMJ in focus: Lauren Oakden and Henry Vaughan

WAFarmers will once again support the Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) Competition for the 2017 contest through the sponsorship of the Murdoch University ICMJ team.

The Murdoch team, comprising of 10 students, will travel to Wagga Wagga in early July to represent their university, and will gain practical experience in the evaluation of carcasses, primals and retail cuts.

Team member Lauren Oakden (21) said her fascination with agriculture and livestock stemmed from family trips as they passed by farms, moving south away from the “concrete jungle” she grew up in.

“It was only in through university that I became fascinated with the meat and agricultural industries, but I think it has always been a passion of mine as I have always loved cattle,” she said.

“I find carcass judging and meat specifications very interesting as they are the end product before the consumer gets what they want.

“Knowing what the consumer wants and how we aim to get that through the farm and breeding fascinates me – I want to know what makes a carcass desirable and how to reach these criteria from a farmer’s perspective.”

Ms Oakden, who said her dream would be to work in cattle or pig nutrition, said she wanted to embrace the ICMJ competition and all it had to offer, acknowledging that it was one of the biggest networking opportunities for tertiary students in the industry.

“I want to go to the IMCJ and absorb as much of the workshops, lectures and presentations as possible, as the ability to utilise all of the information in my own career and the rest of my degree would be greatly beneficial,” she said.

“I am going to embrace this opportunity and talk to as many people as possible and create as many potential contacts, whether they be fellow students that I will be working with in the future, or professors and industry professional who can guide me and give me opportunities in my career.”

Fellow teammate Henry Vaughan (26), who grew up on a crop and cattle operation in Zimbabwe, has many memories of helping his father on the farm, which helped generate his interest in agriculture.

Mr Vaughan said he looked forward to the careers expo, which will provide an insight into the various companies that are involved in the supply chain, and allow him to explore potential areas for employment within the meat industry.

“Whilst other industries can afford to cut back on skilled labourers, I think feeding the world is a job that is unlikely to become obsolete,” he said.

“ICMJ is a great chance to learn about the handling and processing of animals past slaughter, and having an understanding of the end product is important to be able to improve production efficiencies and meat quality.

“I would like to see any current or future technologies that will streamline the various aspects of the post-slaughter process.

“I also look forward to the opportunity to network with leaders from the primary production industry, as well as other like-minded students.”

Mr Vaughan said there was a need to increase global production, efficiency and quality as a result of a booming global population, which required skilled and dedicated workers to support.

WAFarmers is sponsoring the Murdoch University ICMJ team alongside Harvey Beef, Linley Valley Pork, The Royal Agricultural Society of WA and the Murdoch University Veterinary Trust.

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