The science of beef

Although AgriScot is traditionally a dairy cattle show, this year a new feature of the event will be a prime beef assessment competition.

The initiative will feature 20 prime cattle and will combine science and visual appraisal to select the heifers and steers which best match the meat industry’s demands.

Two assessors have been appointed: Basil Lowman, SAC’s renowned beef specialist, and livestock farmer John Elliot, who farms at Roxburgh Mains, Kelso.

Two classes, one of 10 steers and one of 10 heifers, will be subjected to a scoring system involving assessments including sire EBV, daily liveweight gain, back fat scan, eye muscle, length of loin and gene marker for eating quality.

Mr Elliot, who will be kept in the dark about how the animals performed against the scientific indicators, will then place the cattle by visual assessment.

Dr Lowman will explain the value of the various assessments and will discuss with Mr Elliot the results and how farmers can use a combination of science and visual appraisal to prepare livestock.