The WTAMU Meat Laboratory: an interactive education


Zoe Medina

The Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences

West Texas A&M University is highly regarded for its agriculture department. One of the main reasons for its donations and awards is the WTAMU Meat Laboratory. One of the main meat retailers in the Canyon area, WTAMU is ensuring quality in both education and meat.

“The WTAMU Meat Laboratory is a teaching and research facility dedicated to the transfer of knowledge in the conversion of muscle to meat” says the WTAMU Meat Lab page on the university’s website. “The Meat Lab consists of 4,550 square feet and houses a harvest floor, a hot carcass cooler, an aging cooler, a fabrication floor, a test kitchen, a smokehouse, and a retail sales area” 

The new meat lab that includes a retail sales area was designed in 2015 by Dr. Ty Lawrence. Inspired by Dr. Ted Montgomery, the university’s first meat scientist, Doc’s Prime Cuts retail store officially opened to the public on October 3rd of 2018. Both the public and WTAMU students were quick to check out the locally processed meat.

“It’s student run” Tamara Chapman, a sophomore Animal Science major says. “Students do all the kills, cleaning, processing, everything like that”. 

Although there are professionals in the field who are employed at the lab, most of the work is done by students.

“They have kill mornings. They have to go in early, like 4 AM, and humanely kill the animal, process it, wash everything, hang it, dry it, put it through a cooker, and cut it up” says Chapman. “They have on hair and beard nets. Sometimes if they’re going and washing everything, they’ll put on goggles, coats and irrigation boots, and helmets when they’re carrying stuff on the racks”

The student run process is the pride and joy of the lab. At Doc’s, the meat retailer on campus, you can find just about everything- even cow tongue.

“Anything from beef, pigs, turkey and stuff like that” Chapman says. 

The meat lab benefits anyone who is willing to take advantage of it, and helps students prepare for the real world market.

“It helps you know how many different cuts of meat can come from one part of an animal and what’s more popular in the market today,” Chapman says.

The meat market is growing and WTAMU is taking advantage, rightfully so.

“The market value of processed meat is expected to rise from 714 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to over 1.5 trillion dollars by 2022” says Melissa Shahbandeh, a writer for Statista.

With various cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, WTAMU is ensuring quality meat at a value price. All meat sold at Doc’s Prime Cuts is locally processed by WTAMU students and faculty. Doc’s is located in the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building and is open from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday.