To maximise efficiencies, beef producers should understand their market first and then select animals accordingly, said EBLEX’s Steve Powdrill.


Speaking at a seminar at the Beef Expo, Hexham Auction Mart, Mr Powdrill said: “For years we’ve produced cattle and then found a market, causing us to rely on SFP to top up our income.

“We need to turn our thoughts back and understand what the market wants first. There’s nothing wrong with supplying two or three different markets, as long as we are producing the product as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

And careful assessment of conformation and fat scored prior to slaughter are key to maximising efficiency.

“Judging when a beast is ready for slaughter is not like picking apples from a tree, it is a highly complex process that will vary depending on specific markets,” he said.

“Rural consumers don’t mind fat when there is enough conformation to hold it, and are happy with E-U scores for conformation and 4H for fat.

Those producing beef from dairy should avoid carcasses grading P, as yields will not be sufficient. “-O and +O and three for fat will do the job nicely for the processor.”

But close assessment of the live beast is essential to ensure you get the right classification at slaughter, he said.

“Conformation should be assessed by looking at the shoulder, round and loin. However, most look at just two out of these three points, resulting in inaccurate interpretation.

“One of the biggest downfalls is when stock are assessed when their head is in the trough and back end in the air – judging this way gives an inaccurate view of performance.”

Fat should also be judged on five areas: The tail head, flank, rib, shoulder blade and brisket.

* A virtual program demonstrating how a beef animal’s appearance changes with grading score should become available from EBLEX by the end of the year.