16 February 1996

Bruises cost money

BEEF carcasses from markets carry more bruising and stick marks than those from dealers or sent direct to abattoirs from farms.

A survey of over 16,000 carcasses in 1993 showed bruising was much worse in animals which were stick-marked (35%) than the whole population surveyed (6.5%). Bruising was 2.5% worse in carcasses of auction market cattle than in cattle sent direct to abattoirs from farms (0.9%).

The report in this weeks Veterinary Record also shows cull cows suffered most, with the highest evidence of stick marks, and young bulls the least, with less meat rejected. This probably reflects more cautious handling of potentially aggressive animals, says the report.

British meat industry losses due to bruising are estimated at over £4.5m. Nationally, this may represent over 180,000 cattle downgraded for bruising and 49,000 for stick marking, it says.

Authors, Peter McNally and Paul Warriss, from the Dept of Clinical Veterinary Science at Bristol University, propose better education for animal handlers.

Many conditions which produce bruising also cause stress in the animal, the report says. &#42