Dr David Hopkins hands the baton over

 David Hopkins, Steph Fowler and Benjamin Holman.
David Hopkins, Steph Fowler and Benjamin Holman.

After a career spanning 35 years in agricultural livestock and meat science, Dr David Hopkins is set to hang up his hard hat for the last time this week.

David began work in Cowra at the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station relocating from Tasmania at the end of 1991.

David was part of the initial work completed in the early 1990's to improve the eating quality and value of lamb running large lamb genetics trial "the Diverse Genotype project" and creating the Trim Lamb cuts along with Bill Atkinson, John Gamble, Tim Slack-Smith and John Wotton.

Other achievements of David's early years in Cowra was the development of the first 'calculator' to help butchers determine profits from sheep carcases and some of the first investigations into technologies for lamb carcase assessment including VIASCAN.

Although David left the Department in Cowra to complete his PhD, he returned and continued working on meat science from Cowra having a pivotal role in the Sheep Meat Eating Quality Project and the Sheep CRC which saw the creation of a "meat science" flock managed from Cowra with two major experiments undertaken which saw extensive data collected on 1000 lambs over two years with Dave Stanley and Tony Markham.

Shortly after, Leonie Martin was employed and together they turned the former storeroom into a world class meat science laboratory.

"Because of the flock we had scientists and technical offers coming from across the nation to collect samples at the Junee abattoir and it really elevated Cowra," Dr Hopkins said.

"The name 'Centre for Sheep Meat Development' was then born and later upgraded in 2011 to the 'Centre for Red Meat and Sheep Development' which better reflected our program".

The centre created by David has remained a pivotal institution for meat science and sheep research with portions of the nationwide, Sheep CRC meat science program conducted under David's lead in recent decades.

Spanning nine years, this program has lead the biggest changes in lamb processing around the country including the use of electrical stimulation.

In 2004, David joined the editorial board of the International Journal of Meat Science and is still associated with the journal.

Benjamin Holman said "His research output is legendary, having (to date) published more than 500 articles, papers and technical reports in the scientific literature."

As a result of David's reputation and international standing, Cowra has hosted 11 students from Namibia, Morocco, France, Italy, China and Brazil as well as many more domestic students from Sydney University and Charles Sturt University.

David has collaborated with researchers from all around the world, including from Italy, Ireland, China, Brazil, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland.

He has also worked with scientists from The University of Sydney, Charles Sturt University, Murdoch University, University of New England, and Agriculture Victoria, with research covering sheep, beef, alpaca, goat, chicken and duck.

Retirement sounds as busy as ever with David planning to "...do other things like grandparent duties, help people understand who Jesus is, go kayaking with my wife amongst other things, camping with one of my sons, renovate parts of a new house we recently purchased in Canberra etc"

Meat science will live on in Cowra as David passes the baton on to Doctors Benjamin Holman and Stephanie Fowler.