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Mechanical or CO2 based de-dagging


The accumulation of dags or dried mud on the hides of cattle are a significant seasonal issue for processing.  The dags are essentially hard cement-like material accumulations which inhibits the cutting of the hide.  This issue is particularly prevalent with feedlotted livestock.  A number of solutions have been proposed and considered, such as a mechanical rotor, however dust creation is an important consideration.  Alternative approaches such as the use of carbon dioxide pellets conveyed with compressed air have also been investigated.  The value to the supply chain of this work is the reduction of hide damage and wastage, improved product hygiene, processing efficiency, and a contribution to labour sustainability, with costs to the industry identified as:

  • dirty cattle penalties
  • excessive product loss through trimming
  • higher food safety risk
  • slower kill floor chain speeds
  • extra labour for cleaning and trimming

Mechanical based de-dagging research

This research was done to develop and test a mechanical dag removal device that potentially offered an effective, economic, safe and reliable system for cleaning feedlot cattle carrying a heavy dag loading.

The de-dagger technology was developed from a series of industry driven projects that were in response to a number of high cost problems associated with heavily dagged cattle. The manual de-dagger tool developed from these projects is still in operation at John Dee Warwick.

The eventual aim was to develop a robotic de-dagger system based upon the manual unit installed and operating at John Dee, Warwick, for operation on the abdomen. The system was to include a carcass orientation and restraint device, and a surface profiling sensor mechanism. The robotic project was terminated prior to being completed. A list of completed and uncompleted tasks were:

  • Development of the manual tool to suit a robotic interface (completed)
  • Carcass orientation and restraint device (not completed)
  • Carcase scanning and path trajectory hardware and software (completed but not trialled in works)

CO2 based de-dagging research

In 2009, a large processor requested that CO2 blasting be investigated as a potential to provide a cost effective solution to mid and large size processing plants for the removal of dags. In 2010, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) approved a project with Scott Technology Australia (Scott) to pursue this concept. The approved project (A.TEC.0081) was heralded as Stage 1 of a possible three stage development program.


Although the manual tool developed in 2000 was not successfully commercialised at that time, nor fully integrated into a robot(investigated under PRTEC.008 in 2004), more recently the manual tool has been made available again on a commercial basis via a New Zealand engineering company.

The CO2 approach is still under development, with a key challenge being the cost of the CO2 in operating a CO2 based system.


Title Size Date published
2.2MB 01/10/2011
6.9MB 01/04/2000


Contract No. Title Start date End date Funding type
Automated (CO2) Beef De-dagging (Stage 1 of 2)
16/12/2010 20/02/2012
Commercialisation of Dedagging Implement
21/10/2004 12/05/2015

This page was last updated on 31/07/2018