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Animal. 2009 Nov;3(11):1613-24. doi: 10.1017/S1751731109990395.

The relationship of live animal muscular and skeletal scores, ultrasound measurements and carcass classification scores with carcass composition and value in steers.

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1Teagasc, Grange Beef Research Centre, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland.


This study examined the relationship of muscular and skeletal scores and ultrasound measurements in the live animal, and carcass conformation and fat scores with carcass composition and value using 336 steers, slaughtered at 2 years of age. Live animal scores and measurements were recorded at 8 to 12 months of age and pre-slaughter. Following slaughter, each carcass was classified for conformation and fatness and the right side dissected into meat, fat and bone. Carcass conformation scores and fat scores were both measured on a continuous 15-point scale and ranged from 2.0 to 12.0 and from 2.8 to 13.3, respectively. Pre-slaughter muscular scores showed positive correlations (P < 0.001) ranging from 0.31 to 0.86 with carcass meat proportion, proportion of high-value cuts in the carcass, conformation score and carcass value, significant negative correlations with carcass fat (r = -0.13) and bone (r = -0.81) proportions, and generally low non-significant relationships with the proportion of high-value cuts in meat and carcass fat score. Pre-slaughter ultrasound muscle depth and carcass conformation score showed similar correlations with carcass traits to those using the pre-slaughter muscular scoring procedure. Pre-slaughter ultrasound fat depth showed positive correlations (P < 0.001) with carcass fat proportion (r = 0.59) and fat score (r = 0.63), and significant negative correlations (-0.23 to -0.50) with carcass meat and bone proportions, high-value cuts in the carcass and in meat, and carcass value. Pre-slaughter skeletal scores generally showed poor correlations ranging from -0.38 to 0.52 with the various carcass traits. Corresponding correlations (-0.26 to 0.44) involving records collected at 8 to 12 months of age were lower than those using pre-slaughter records. A one-unit increase in carcass conformation score increased carcass meat proportion and value by 11.2 g/kg and 5.6 cents/kg, respectively. Corresponding values for fat score were -8.2 g/kg and -5.1 cents/kg. In conclusion, both pre-slaughter live animal scores/measurements and carcass classification scores, explained an appreciable amount of the total variation in carcass meat, fat and bone proportions and carcass value, and a moderate amount of the variation in proportion of high-value meat cuts in the carcass.


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