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UK Cattle Getting Heavier to Meet Specifications

01 June 2016

UK - Heavier beef carcases targeted at delivering the highest lean meat yield to score premiums for producers may end up incurring additional penalties if processors reduce their maximum weight limits, a study suggests.

More than 40 per cent of steers slaughtered in Great Britain in February 2016 had carcase weights above 380kg, up from 36 per cent a year before, according to a new report from AHDB Beef & Lamb.

The figures form the first part of an ongoing, in-depth analysis of cattle prices and specifications.

Published today, the new report provides analysis of the distribution of cattle in the AHDB deadweight price reporting sample by conformation, fat class and weight band. It is the first stage of a series of analyses aiming to improve the transparency of price reporting data.

It shows the proportion of heifer and young bull carcases above the 380kg weight was also higher this year, and it shows that heavier carcases are particularly concentrated among those with the highest lean meat yield – conformation grades E and U. In these classes, most carcases weigh over 380kg, with many over 420kg.

“These carcases currently attract some of the highest average prices, on a pence per kilogram basis, as many processors pay bonuses for them. However, there is a risk that new penalties for being overweight will actually reduce their value,” said Stephen Howarth, market specialist manager for AHDB Market Intelligence.

“This could potentially have significant implications for those producers who are currently aiming to deliver animals with the highest conformation. They might need to adjust their system towards producing lower conformation, lighter animals.”

The report also looks at how the distribution of carcases by conformation and fat class changed over the year to February 2016.

This shows relatively little change in fat classes, but a shift towards R grade carcases, compared with a year earlier, mainly from O. This represents a small improvement in the conformation of carcases over that period, suggesting producers are getting better at delivering cattle which meet processors’ target specification.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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