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Carcase Quality Figures Show Improvement Potential
31/03/06

English beef producers have considerable potential for increasing returns through sustained breeding-based improvements in carcase quality, along with improved selection skills, reveals the latest annual carcase classification summary from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX). 

 
beef cattle

Overall, MLC carcase classification reports for more than 148,000 prime cattle slaughtered in England in 2005 show 41% of prime beef meeting the preferred ‘R4L or Better’ specification. Similar to 2003, this compares with 43% of carcases meeting the specification in 2004.

English Annual Beef Carcase Performance (MLC)

 

4L or Leaner

R or Better

R4L or Better *

 

2004

2005

2004

2005

2004

2005

All Prime Cattle

88%

86%

50%

49%

43%

41%

Steers

89%

89%

52%

49%

46%

43%

Heifers

78%

76%

50%

48%

39%

36%

Young Bulls

98%

97%

46%

48%

44%

46%

* Both leaner and better conformation

It also contrasts to the 53% of carcases classifying ‘R4L or Better’ recorded in Scotland, although continuing price differentials between English and Scottish abattoirs are likely to have been responsible for a number of better quality English-reared stock being marketed north of the border.

The slight annual decline in English carcase quality was evident in both steers and heifers, although young bull quality improved somewhat, following its noticeable decline in 2004.

English producers are continuing to prove especially adept at marketing their animals at the correct level of fatness, less than 15% of all prime beef carcases grading ‘4H or worse’.  A higher proportion of heifers continue to be over-fat, of course, but more than 75% are still being slaughtered at the preferred ‘4L or Leaner’ classification.

It is in the area of conformation that the greatest potential for improvement continues to lie, with barely half of all animals slaughtered in England classifying ‘R or Better’. This contrasts with the 79% ‘R or Better’ figure recorded in Scottish abattoirs with their very much higher proportion of beef to dairy-bred stock.

The latest English figures underline the importance of maximising the quality of beef sires used in both the national beef and dairy herds through better sire choice on the basis of reliable information on breeding quality.

Practical guidance on using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to improve beef sire selection is available through the unique EBLEX Beef Action for Profit resource at www.eblex.org.uk.

link No Dragons For Saint George!
link Getting North West English Beef Abroad
link Paris Date For Meat Exporters
link Steaking it on a Perfect Pie
link Good News For Beef On The Bone

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