New tool to help farmers meet target carcase specifications

The tool ensures that livestock meet target carcase specifications required by processors and consumers
The tool ensures that livestock meet target carcase specifications required by processors and consumers

Scottish livestock farmers can now use a free online tool helping to boost profits by improving livestock selection and management for slaughter.

The 'Meat the Grade' tool highlights key factors that need to be considered by farmers to ensure that livestock meet carcase specifications required by processors and consumers.

The tool has been developed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and launched at this year’s online AgriScot event.

Beth Alexander, QMS cattle and sheep specialist, said that the tool will provide producers with the skills to maximise their returns and minimise the risk of condemnations and carcase downgrades.

“Our aim is to help Scotland’s livestock farmers optimise their returns and understand carcase grading, and presentation to ensure they hit the correct specification for their chosen market.

"Hitting target specifications means more return for the producer and less waste for the processor," Ms Alexander explained.

The tool demonstrates how the EUROP grading system works as well as providing market driven insights to stock selection, carcase specification and grading techniques.

This will ensure that livestock meet target carcase specifications required by processors, therefore boosting the best price for farmers, QMS says.

(Photo: Quality Meat Scotland)
(Photo: Quality Meat Scotland)

The tool also gives producers an opportunity to learn more about the whole supply chain, the hygiene requirements, and insight into the products consumers want to buy.

Approximately 40% of lambs and 20-30% of cattle failed to meet market specifications in 2018, with overfat and overweight being two of the most common reasons for ‘out of spec’ carcases.

Adrian Crowe, of Meat & Livestock Commercial Services Ltd (MLCSL) - the only independent provider of abattoir authentication and classification services to the British processing industry - said the tool will help farmers understand stock selection based on handling them correctly to assess fat cover.

“Many farmers will select stock based on what they weigh and, although they may receive good conformation grades, many will find they are not achieving the correct fat class.

“The tool will demonstrate to farmers ways they can select stock by handling them to assess fat cover and conformation to help hit market specifications,” Mr Crowe said.