Cattle failing to meet target specification
Published:  14 September, 2016

Beef producers are being advised on the importance of regularly handling and weighing cattle to meet target specification and avoid subsequent penalties. 

This comes after a report from AHDB Beef & Lamb revealed that half of cattle were failing to meet core specification and suggestions that large numbers of over- and under-finished cattle were being sent to slaughter.

“What we are seeing is a higher percentage of continental-type cattle being marketed under-finished and the opposite with native-type cattle, which are often going to slaughter too fat,” said Steve Powdrill, technical manager at AHDB.

“The concern is that as grass quality reduces, producers will look to sell cattle rather than spend money on feed and housing, which will result in a larger number of cattle marketed under-finished. This will ultimately affect price, so may not be as cost-effective as it first seems.”

Depending on their breed, gender and system they’re reared on, beef cattle are finished at a range of different ages and weights.

“It’s important to tailor management to ensure animals hit target specification at the right time to earn most money,” added Powdrill. “Weigh and handle animals regularly to monitor progress. Feeding regimes can then be adjusted to bring stock to market at the right specification.”

Producers are being told by the levy board that handling the live animal is essential to determine when it is ready for market. Key points to look out for that indicate the animal’s level of finish and fat class are loin, shoulder, pin bones, either side of the tailhead, ribs, brisket and flank.

The findings come as part of AHDB Beef & Lamb’s report – Analysis of Cattle Prices and Specifications.