22 March 1996

Damaging to profits

DAMAGED and overfat carcasses lose the industry £25m a year.

Ron Williams, former marketing and sales manager for Anglo Beef Processors, said: "Every time an animal is moved using a stick it bruises the carcass and wastes producers money. As the carcass is processed the bruised area is trimmed off."

Mr Williams reckoned that about 0.7kg (1.5lb) could be trimmed from both sides of the carcass, a loss borne by the producer even when the injury had occurred after the animal had left the farm. In addition to these injuries stress pre-slaughter causes darker meat and results in downgrading. "In all about £5m of revenue is lost due to poor handling pre-slaughter."

Stick marks, scratches and dung-covered hides take £10m with a further £10m lost through overfatness.

"About 10% of the animals we receive are overfat. Many producers are not selective enough when buying in animals to rear. They buy poor animals and over-feed them without paying careful attention to the animals condition," said Mr Williams.

"Todays meat production is about efficiency, with plants handling 60 beef carcasses an hour. Every time we have to trim a carcass it costs us money.

"My advice to producers is to maintain fences and buildings so that animals cannot damage their hides. Do not use sticks to encourage animals to move and check carcass condition with the processor. If you have not used a stick and injuries occur select a haulier or market which treats your animals with care," he said.

"Then be selective about the animals you choose to rear. Ensure they will produce a carcass that will grow to fit the market and do not overfeed any animal."