September 29, 2011


Poor cattle handling in UK lowers meat value



EBLEX research states that dark cutting beef can lower beef carcase values by as much as GBX50 (US$0.78) per kilogramme.


The darker colouring on the meat is usually caused by stress around the time of slaughter, with an increased flow of hormones produced as a result of increased anxiety. This can be caused by the mixing of unfamiliar animals, including in transportation and in lair age, leading to fighting and mounting behaviour. A seasonal change in temperatures, such as we are experiencing now, catching cattle before they have grown a winter coat and also a drop in dietary energy from late season grass can both add to the problem.


While all cattle can be affected, particular care should be given to bulls who are most susceptible.


EBLEX research on the issue, carried out with the University of Bristol, has helped develop some best practice guidelines for producers and processors to minimise the chances of producing dark cutting meat. And, at current market values, adopting such measures could save up to GBP160 (US$251) per carcase.


"Mixing unfamiliar animals in the 24-48 hours prior to slaughter can lead to fighting and mounting behaviour," said Dr Phil Hadley, EBLEX senior regional manager for the southern region.


EBLEX added that the costs of ignoring this type of behaviour could have a significant impact on margins for those in the supply chain, seriously affecting the appearance and quality of the meat thus proper cattle handling is the key to maximising returns.

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