More beef cattle could be finished to market requirements without too much effort if producers understand how live cattle relate to dressed carcasses, suggests the head of Britain’s leading abattoir group ABP.

Richard Cracknell, managing director of ABP, says making the link between carcass conformation on the hoof and on the hook could increase payments for producers. “Every day in our seven UK abattoirs, ABP sees more beef cattle produced to the specification the market needs, but this percentage could be increased without much extra effort on farm.

“One way of achieving this is for farmers to see what is being produced by the top percentile of commercial beef producers at the Winter Fair which we are delighted to be supporting,” he says.

ABP’s backing of the annual carcass competition has swollen the potential prize fund for the champion carcass to a staggering £3000 before auction revenues. That investment is aimed at encouraging more finishers of beef cattle to understand and aim for abattoir specifications for carcasses.

“Beef is becoming ever more expensive for the consumer and we need to ensure the eating experience matches their expectations,” adds Mr Cracknell.

The Herculean task of judging carcasses dressed to EU specification has been handed to Ashbourne, Derbyshire, butcher Nigel Brown. “It’s a great honour to be asked having been a town butcher for 35 years and having my own shop for the past 27 years.

“I like to source off local farms where possible and look for cattle of a handy size, not heavy boned and not too much fat cover. Quality, for me, is the key component whether supplying the individual consumer coming in to the shop or the restaurants and pubs in the local area,” he says.

All class-winning carcasses will be displayed within the English Winter Fair’s permanent on-site carcass hall – unique to the show – allowing visitors and producers an unparalleled view. Carcasses are auctioned by Bagshaws Auctioneers, Uttoxeter, in the traditional Sunday afternoon sale at the weekend event.