5 May 1995

Two top breeds for carcass class

OVER a 12-year trial Charolais and Belgian Blue dairy-cross steers have produced the most superior quality beef carcasses, according to extensive research at the Grange research centre in Co Meath, Eire.

Quality was measured in terms of growth rate and carcass weights, which beef production researcher Dr Gerry Keane, views as the best perception of meat quality so far as it can be measured.

As can be seen in the table, breeds were finished as steers under identical conditions and performance monitored closely. To provide a comparison, Friesian steer results were used as the control and their relative performance recorded as a factor of 100.

The Charolais produced 11% more carcass weight for age when compared with the Friesian. Blonde dAquitaines, Belgian Blues, and Simmentals were between 7% and 9% more efficient. Herefords, Meuse Rhine Issels and Limousins produced 4% heavier carcasses.

The double muscling characteristics of the Continental breeds boosted results for muscle size and muscle weight for age, when compared with Friesian steers.

Traditional breeds such as the Hereford and Aberdeen-Angus showed that even though their conformation was significantly superior to the Friesian, carcass weights were 30kg to 40kg poorer at the same fat cover.

"The carcass must contain as much muscle as possible," explains Dr Keane. "Some breeds may score well on conformation, but if their carcasses are fatty they may sell well once, but not again."

The trial is ongoing with results from Pietmontese and Romagnola dairy-bred steers to be released shortly.

Beef breeds relative productivity (Fr=100) of beef x Friesian steers


Slaughter wt/age100 96 10299102104106107

Carcass wt/age10098104104104107109109111

Kill out100 102102103105105105103104

Muscle wt/age10094100105110116119114117

Muscle size100100102103118119120118123


Fat score100120124102101919110195

Carcass wt (kg)*320 270290320360400400380400

*At similar fatness