Producers maintain carcase quality

Beef carcase quality remained relatively static last year, according to the latest annual carcase classification results from Eblex.

Data taken from 400,000 prime cattle by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) suggests that 49% of carcases met the ‘R4L or better’ target market specification in 2011, which is similar to last year’s performance.

The biggest improvement was seen in young bull classifications, where the number hitting ‘R4L or better’ increased from 48% to 53%, although this was still significantly lower than the 57% recorded in 2009. Eblex stated that this improvement is due to the reduction of dairy-bred bulls as a result of increasing feed costs.

The conformation quality of heifer carcases improved from 62% to 64%, although only 77% were finished at ‘4L or leaner’, which was significantly fewer than other types of prime cattle, which Eblex said suggested that producers are chasing extra weight and allowing heifers to get over-fat.

The number of steer carcases meeting the target classification fell back from 58% last year to 59%, which was put down to producers trying to finish animals earlier to minimise feed costs or benefit from high prices.

“Overall, the finishing quality results paint an encouraging picture, indicating that 87% of cattle slaughtered in Great Britain are still being selected at an appropriate level of finish,” said Eblex. “Conformation quality results, on the other hand, show that only 58% of cattle are reaching target, demonstrating that the industry needs a sustained focus on breeding improvements to achieve further carcase quality gains.”

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