17 November 2000

QUESTTO IMPROVE FLAVOUR

BEEF eating quality starts with tenderness and substantial improvement has been achieved by slaughterers who subscribe to the MLCs Blueprint For Lean and Tender British Beef. Techniques including hip hanging and carefully controlled maturation and storage times and temperatures after a slaughter, have a major effect on tenderness.

The next challenge is an analysis of the complex factors affecting beef flavour with work, funded by the MLC, being undertaken at the Bristol Universitys Department of Food Animal Science, Langford, Bristol.

Another Link trial of four years duration, co-funded by the MLC, MAFF and the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD), will study alternative and self-generating suckler herd replacement methods.

MLC beef scientist Dr Duncan Pullar explains: "Such methods are well established in the US, compared with the UK where we have relied heavily on dairy/beef crossbreds as suckler cow replacements for many years.

"The increasingly extreme Holstein dairy influence coupled with suckler beef producers interest in producing their own healthy female replacements for quality beef production, has triggered interest in North American breeding methods.

"We still do not know which of our individual beef breeds and individuals within breeds are best suited as contributors to crossbred suckler dams in different conditions. The four-year Link programme will allow us to compare different sustainable crossing systems for a wide range of conditions, not just lowland and upland requirements.

"We will also aim to produce new estimated breeding values (EBVs) for maternal traits to help breeders produce the most efficient crossbreds for their market requirements," says Dr Pullar.