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    English Beef Carcase Quality Improvement
08/05/07

The quality of English beef carcases showed marked across-the-board improvements over the past year, according to the latest annual carcase classification figures from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).

photo courtesy of www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk

british beef cattle

Overall, MLC classification reports for more than 200,000 prime cattle slaughtered in England in 2006 show 46% of prime beef carcases meeting the preferred ‘R4L or better’ specification. This compares with 41% of carcases meeting the specification in 2005 and 43% in 2004.

More detailed analysis reveals year-on-year improvements in both the leanness and conformation of all three classes of stock – steers, heifers and young bulls – to record the best all-round English beef carcase quality of recent years.

English Annual Beef Carcase Performance (MLC)

 

4L or Leaner

R or Better

R4L or Better *

 

2005

2006

2005

2006

2005

2006

All Prime Cattle

86% 

89%

49%

52%

41%

46%

Steers

89%

92%

49%

51%

43%

47%

Heifers

76% 

80%

48%

52%

36%

42%

Young Bulls

97%

98%

48%

58%

46%

52%

* Both leaner and better conformation

The greatest annual progress was recorded in both heifer and young bull carcase quality, with heifers showing especially noticeable improvements in both leanness and conformation.

The improved figures reflect the fewer number of young bulls marketed last year and a corresponding increase in the proportion of steers and heifers.

For the first time in recent years the proportion of carcases meeting the ‘R or better’ target for conformation in 2006 exceeded 50%, suggesting breeding improvements could now be having a positive effect alongside better management.

However, with 48% of carcases still lacking in conformation and well over half failing to meet both the preferred conformation and leanness targets, there clearly remains considerable room for improvement in responding to the demands of the modern beef market.

The fact that the Midlands region recorded 60% of ‘R4L or better’ carcases last year clearly shows that achieving a very much higher overall carcase quality is eminently possible given sufficient determination and incentive.

Practical guidance to support continued improvements in carcase quality is available free of charge to English levy payers through the EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme funded by Defra and the Beef Action for Profit resource, both accessible at www.eblex.org.uk.

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