Eating Quality of Australia’s Beef Herd Rising

The eating quality of Australia’s beef herd is on the rise with the national average Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Index reaching 57.62 in 2017-19, improving 0.73 points since 2010-11.
calendar icon 12 November 2019
clock icon 3 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

The results are revealed in the 2019 Australian Beef Eating Quality Insights (ABEQI) produced by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). The report aims to help beef producers optimise the eating quality of cattle by demonstrating the impact production factors have on carcase performance.

The MSA Index is a single number between 30 and 80, and is the standard national measure of the predicted eating quality potential of a whole carcase.

The report analysed carcase grading data of 6.2 million MSA-compliant cattle processed in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years, and examined compliance and eating quality performance by production factors including feed type, Hormonal Growth Promotants (HGPs) and gender.

MSA Program Manager Sarah Strachan said the report highlighted the traits of carcases in the top 1% of cattle to the bottom 1% of the MSA Index scale by the various production factors and by state to help producers benchmark themselves and identify opportunities for improvement.

“The report shows the top 1% of producers nationally have an average Index of 67.01 and those in the top 25% are averaging an Index of 60.68. Cattle in the bottom 10% had an average Index of 51.90 and those in the bottom 1% averaged an MSA Index of 46.36. The report also outlines the carcase attributes that are influencing these quality bands,” she said.

“The report also found that 2.1% of MSA-graded grainfed cattle did not meet MSA minimum requirements as opposed to 9.9% of non-grainfed cattle.

“And while seasonal conditions vary for each state, the average national non-compliance was highest in the cooler months. The main reason for non-compliance across all cattle was high meat pH (above 5.7).”

Ms Strachan said this was the third time the report had been released, building on the inaugural 2015 Australian Beef Eating Quality Audit.

“The report confirms that the opportunity still exists for MSA beef producers to continue to improve the eating quality potential of their herd as well as manage compliance fluctuations throughout the year," said Strachan. "By improving MSA Index results and compliance, producers can increase carcase value, and create potential for increased profitability and enhanced farm productivity.”

State breakdown

New South Wales and Australia Capital Territory

Average compliance – 95%
Average MSA Index – 57.67

Queensland and Northern Territory

Average non-compliance – 93.3%
Average MSA Index – 56.37

South Australia

Average compliance – 92.8%
Average MSA Index – 60.49

Average compliance – 95.6%
Average MSA Index – 60.20

Western Australia

Average compliance – 95.5%
Average MSA Index – 59.99


Average compliance – 90.5%
Average MSA Index – 59.82

The ABEQI is an extension of the myMSA Benchmarking tool, which allows producers to benchmark the performance of their herd over time against their region, state or the national herd by selecting for relevant production factors such as HGP status and feed type.

Producers can use the benchmarking tool, access carcase feedback and view their MSA Index results at

To access the full 2019 Australian Beef Eating Quality Insights (ABEQI) report please click here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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