FINISHING STEERS faster results in more cattle with better carcass quality and reduced finishing costs, according to a study by EBLEX.

The study of nearly 100,000 passport and carcass records from animals slaughtered at ABP”s three English abattoirs found 94% of Charolais cross steers slaughtered at 670-700 days, with carcass weights of 300-375kg and in fat class 4L, graded R or better for conformation.

This compared with 86% R grades for animals slaughtered at more than 730 days, says MLC beef scientist Mary Browne.

“For Limousin-sired cattle, more than 95% were slaughtered at more than 675 days, but the data revealed no increase in average carcass weight beyond this age.

“This means there is no extra income to pay for additional feeding, labour and housing costs for keeping cattle longer.

” Dr Browne recommends that Continental cross steers should be managed to gain at least 0.8kg of liveweight a day over their lives. “Lifetime growth rates of 1kg a day will see steers finished at 18 months old. These faster growth rates can be achieved through adjusting diets, so feed is used more efficiently.

” For native breeds finishers should aim for liveweight gains of at least 0.7kg a day to avoid the danger of putting on too much fat too early, she adds.