Producing beef to market specifications

The type of animal required by a market may be described in various ways depending on whether it is a live or slaughter market. The market focus for a beef producer will be impacted by such things as financial return and suitability of the production system.

Target beef markets available to commercial beef producers include:

  • Domestic slaughter markets
  • Export slaughter markets
  • Store market (live cattle for feedlot, pasture or crop finishers, growers, live export)

Slaughter markets

Specifications for slaughter markets are generally described in terms of carcase weight (kg) and fatness (mm on the p8 rump site). Most slaughter markets specify other requirements including: sex, age (dentition), muscle score or butt shape, fat distribution, breed content, hormone growth promotant and chemical residue status.

Beef carcase traits included in some specifications include: meat colour, fat colour, marbling, rib fat thickness, bone maturity (ossification) and muscle pH (acidity). Most of the slaughter traits will be influenced by pre-slaughter husbandry.

Market feedback

Meeting carcase specifications and understanding consumer requirements are key areas of ensuring compliance with a market requirement. There are various methods to obtain feedback. It is important to make a connection with the purchaser of stock through feedback to assess the suitability of cattle to the end user.

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