THERE is change in the wind when it comes to production aimed at carcase yield.
Angus selected for high muscling are producing cattle that consistently yield more lean meat at slaughter, resulting in higher value carcases.
However, producers adopting high muscling cattle are not receiving full reward for their efforts because the carcase payment system fails to completely account for higher carcase yield.
That is about to change.
Department of Primary Industries research officer Linda Cafe, Armidale, has been studying the impact of selection for increased muscling in an Angus herd and she is excited about new technology that will objectively assess an animal for muscling.
Large processors are already investigating x-ray units that will measure lean meat yield in a carcase and incorporate that into the payment system. Industry expects that development to be less than two years away.
Meanwhile DPI Armidale and University of Technology Sydney are developing a 3-D imaging tool – using available Wii cameras and in-house software – which will identify high-muscled animals and give them an objective muscle score. That technology is less than 18 months from release.
The hope is that new technology will the objective data to create Estimated Breeding Values for muscle score. Currently there is no such thing.
Muscling is identified on the hoof by trained professionals. but there is currently no objective way of assessing muscle score.
There is no easy way of identifying high-muscled cattle at weaning time, but with new technology buyers keen on high muscling Angus may be able to identify suitable calves.
Dr Cafe, who has continued the good work of the late Bill McKiernan, said research had shown whole body muscling measured by visual muscle score was a better predictor of increased carcass retail beef yield and dressing percentage than other indirect measures such as eye muscle area, with or without weight adjustments.
“This suggests that selection using visual muscle score could help increase the profitability of the beef industry,” she said.
“Carcass results from the herd have revealed that when muscle score increased from C to B an increase in dressing of 1.2% units, and an increase in retail beef yield of 1.6% units was gained.
“This is real lean meat gain and does not rely on reducing fatness to increase yield. As a result good meat quality is maintained in the higher muscled, higher yielding cattle.”
“Genetic analysis on the herd has also revealed that muscling is highly heritable.”