24 November 1995

Hormone implants in Canadian beef

HORMONE implants banned across Europe for the past nine years are still used on 40% of Canadian beef animals.

"Implants improve the rate of gain by 10%," says Al McBurney, of the Elora Beef Research Station, University of Guelph, Ontario. "These gains balance out the losses in growth rate due to castration."

Most calves in Canada are castrated to avoid aggression and dark meat. Intact bulls incur a price penalties of 10 cents/lb (11p/kg) from the meat processors.

The hormone products are those previously used in the UK, such as Ralgro, Synovex and Compudose. Hormone implants are more commonly used by larger feed-lot producers than smaller family run farms. Antibiotic feed additives such as Romensin and Boratec are also used in Canada.

Consumer reaction against beef growth promoter use in the country is low, with hormone-free meat taking only 5% of the market.