Market specifications and trading
For most sales of slaughter cattle, the price you receive for each carcase depends on how well it meets the specifications of the target market.
Specifications may be broad and simple for some markets, but in others they can include detailed requirements for carcase and meat quality and more.
If your processor buys cattle on a dressed weight basis (over the hooks), talk to your processor about their company specifications and prices. Also ask if you will be paid on a hot or cold weight basis. This is important because a cold weight is lighter and some abattoirs make a deduction for moisture loss.
- Slaughter floor measurements (dentition, weight, sex and fat depth) are widely used to describe carcases and determine their price.
- Discounts can occur for bruising and dark cutting (dark meat colour)
- Chiller Assessment, including meat colour, fat colour and marbling, forms part of the specifications in many quality markets, particularly grain fed beef for export.
- If carcases require grading for eating quality by Meat Standards Australia (MSA), producers must be registered and comply with a number of pre-slaughter and carcase assessment requirements.
- The AUS-MEAT - over the hooks guide explains about trading cattle on a dressed weight basis and the feedback that abattoirs must provide.
- Market specifications for beef cattle shows the general specifications of a range of markets and how different types of cattle can meet them
- Some processors are beginning to pay on Saleable Meat Yield. This is the percentage of saleable meat in a carcase. Animals with more muscle and less fat are likely to have a higher meat yield. The Beef CRC has good information on the value of muscling and yield, and visual selection for muscling in a breeding herd.
- For detailed information on managing your enterprise to achieve target specifications see Module 7 Meeting market specifications from the More Beef from Pastures Manual.