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Increase in Underfinished Prime Cattle Continues

21 January 2013

UK - Reports from the major processors over the last quarter of 2012 have indicated an increase in the proportion of under finished prime cattle being slaughtered across the plants.

To confirm this the classification statistics for the final quarter of 2012 have shown a slight increase in the proportion of steers and heifers being slaughtered at a fat class one or two when compared to the corresponding period in 2011.

In the final quarter of 2011 12.9 per cent of price reported heifers were awarded a fat class one or two and in the same quarter in 2012 this had increased by 2.5 percentage points to 15.4 per cent.

Meanwhile the proportion of heifers awarded a fat class three has increased by 1.6 percentage points between the two periods to account for 47.1 per cent of the heifer kill in the final quarter of 2012.

The proportion of heifers killed at a fat class four was back 3.9 percentage points to 35.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2012.

Cattle sourced from the dairy herd tend to tend to have lower fat cover than suckler origin cattle due to their genetics and as a result a larger proportion of dairy origin cattle have lower fat cover than their suckler counterparts. In the final quarter of 2011 36.9 per cent of dairy origin prime cattle were fat class one and two.

In the same period in 2012 this increased to 39.9 per cent, an increase of 3 percentage points year on year. The proportion of dairy origin cattle with a fat class three was almost unchanged at 44.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2012 while the proportion achieving fat class four was back 2.7 percentage points to 15.1 per cent of the dairy origin kill.

If we consider the steer kill then it has followed a similar pattern to the heifer kill with an increase in the number of animals awarded a one or two for fat cover as indicated in Figure 1. In the final quarter of 2011 19.9 per cent of steers were either one or two for fat cover and in the same period in 2012 this had increased to 25.5 per cent.

The proportion of steers awarded a fat cover of four showed the biggest change between the two periods, down 5.3 percentage points to 17.9 per cent in the final quarter of 2012. Meanwhile the proportion of steers awarded a three for fat cover was almost unchanged at 56.4 per cent.

However when we compare the young bull kill between the two periods in question there has been an improvement in the fat covers of young bulls as shown in Table 1. The proportion of young bulls awarded a one for cover was back 6.5 percentage points to 10.7 per cent while the proportion awarded a two for fat cover was back 3.5 percentage points to 44.4 per cent.

Meanwhile the proportion of young bulls in the final quarter of 2012 with a fat cover three increased by 8.1 percentage points to account for 41.0 per cent of the total young bull kill.

If we look at the prime kill in respect of its source, i.e. suckler and dairy origin cattle, there are also changes in the proportion of cattle within each fat class when comparing the final quarter of 2012 with the same period in 2011. Figures 2 and 3 show the break down of the fat class allocation for suckler and dairy origin cattle in October-December 2012.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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