22 March 1996

UK lightweight carcasses find favour in Italy

UK EXPORTS

ITALY

&#8226 18 months max heifers.

&#8226 230-260kg liveweight.

&#8226 R to U+, 3L or above carcasses.

&#8226 Exported as sides.

FRANCE

&#8226 20 to 30 month steers.

&#8226 400kg and over liveweight.

&#8226 U or better, 3-4L fat class.

THE Italian market for light heifer beef carcasses from the UK has opened up over the past two years. It demands a regular supply throughout the year.

Clive Mahony of Warwicks-based Meadow Valley Livestock claimed such heifers gained a 6-9p/kg premium that peaked during the summer.

Few UK animals, however, are finished on cereals in summer to produce the white fat that is essential for European markets. Grass finished stock produce yellow fat.

But Italy is keen to take animals specifically from the UK and there are few alternatives for these heifers, with most European countries preferring heavy steers (see box). Mr Mahony, therefore, urged suckler cow and milk producers with spare housing in summer to consider heifer cereal beef to keep the market supplied.

"Producers should look at their own situation and explore the opportunity to produce an export type quality," he said.

"Stock must be fed a cereal diet for 90 to 120 days, with no grass or grass silage. Maize silage can be fed but a high proportion of cereal in the diet is still needed." &#42