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Welfare and Profit Considerations Drawn From Beef Bruising Study in Texas Slaughterhouse

01 July 2014

Profitability and animal welfare can be improved by reducing carcass bruising, is the conclusion of a report into meat quality by the Beef Cattle Institute.

Beef carcass bruising causes a loss in revenue to the producer due to trim loss and can be an indication of substandard cattle management or handling. Carcasses from 18,031 feedlot beef cattle were evaluated at commercial slaughter facilities located in Kansas and Texas.

A carcass bruising scoring system that divided the carcass into nine anatomical sections and described the bruising severity was utilized. Bruises less than 2 inches in diameter were scored as minor.

Margaret Stephens, graduate at the BCI

Bruises with a diameter of 2 to 6 inches were scored moderate, and bruises with a diameter greater than 6 inches were scored severe. All bruising scores were observed and recorded by trained evaluators from the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.

Bruising was observed in 37.4 per cent of the carcasses. Of the total number of bruises 20.7 per cent were severe, 63.1 per cent moderate, and 16.2 per cent were minor.

Two thirds of the bruising occurred on the dorsal mid line of the carcass with similar bruising occurring on the left (15.3 per cent ) or right (17.0 per cent ) sides of the carcasses.

The prevalence of bruising on the caudal third of the carcass (18.1 per cent ) was half the prevalence of bruising that occurred on the anterior (36.7 per cent ) and center (45.2 per cent ) portions of the carcass.

Reduction of carcass bruising represents a substantial opportunity to improve profitability and animal welfare. Further research into the loading, transportation, and unloading of beef cattle at the time of slaughter is warranted to diagnose the cause of the predominately craniodorsal carcass bruising and determine the corrective actions to resolve the issue. 

Authors: Margaret Stephens, Chris Reinhardt, D.J. Rezac, Frank Prouty, Steve Bartle, Dave Rethorst and Dan Thomson.

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