A significant proportion of Scottish livestock is still failing to meet market specification resulting in financial, productivity and efficiency costs.
Nearly 40% of sheep and 30% of beef cattle in Scotland fail to meet market specifications, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
To combat this, the red meat sector body is encouraging more farmers to utilise its virtual carcase grading tool 'Meat the Grade'.
Developed to help farmers boost their bottom line by improving livestock selection and management for slaughter, the virtual tool was launched last year.
Beth Alexander, QMS Cattle and Sheep Specialist who helped develop it, said livestock that were overfat and overweight were two of the most common reasons for ‘out of spec’ carcases.
“Only 72.7% of the steers and 60.9% of lambs processed by Scottish price reporting abattoirs in 2020 met specification," she explained.
"When we’re talking about specification, for lamb we are talking about an E, U, or R grade for conformation, a 2 and 3L for fat and up to 21kg deadweight with a large number of processors not paying for any weight past 21kg.
“For cattle, again an E, U, or R grade for conformation and a 2,3 and 4L for fat. Many processors are inflicting penalties for carcases over 420kg deadweight, though some have reduced this to 400kg.
"It depends how, when and where you are marketing your livestock,” Ms Alexander added.
The tool helps farmers learn about the requirements of the whole supply-chain, such as abattoir grading systems and hygiene requirements.
It also helps producers learn about consumer preferences for consistency to allow for planning and to improve their productivity and profitability.