By Gordon Davidson

A “SIGNIFICANT proportion” of Scottish livestock are still failing to meet market specification, according to Quality Meat Scotland.

The red meat promotion body said that close to 40% of sheep and 30% of beef cattle in Scotland were being presented off-spec, resulting in financial, productivity and efficiency costs up and down the chain.

To remedy this, the levy-funded body wants more farmers to use its virtual carcase grading tool Meat the Grade, which was launched in late 2020.

QMS cattle and sheep specialist, Beth Alexander, who helped develop the tool, said that two of the most common reasons for ‘out of spec’ carcases were livestock which were overfat and overweight.

“Only 72.7% of the steers and 60.9% of lambs processed by Scottish price reporting abattoirs in 2020 met specification,” said Ms Alexander.

“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 that the ‘Meat The Grade’ tool gave producers the opportunity to learn about the requirements of the whole supply-chain – from abattoir grading systems and hygiene requirements to consumer preferences for consistency, to allow for planning and to improve productivity and profitability.

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