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The incidence of dark cutting in southern Australian beef production systems fluctuates between months

McGilchrist, P., Perovic, J.L., Gardner, G.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-7499-9986, Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677 and Jose, C.G. (2014) The incidence of dark cutting in southern Australian beef production systems fluctuates between months. Animal Production Science, 54 (10). pp. 1765-1769.

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Dark cutting is detrimental to meat quality and therefore is the major cause of carcass downgrades under the Meat Standards Australia grading system. This study quantified the variation between months in the incidence of dark cutting, in southern Australia. Four years of Meat Standards Australia grading data, from nine individual beef processors in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, was utilised for the analysis. The dataset contained 42162 slaughter groups, of 10 or more grass-fed cattle, which allowed for the percentage of dark cutters per slaughter group to be analysed. The interaction between month, year and state was significant (P < 0.001). The lowest risk of dark cutting for South Australia and Western Australia was in October (1.53% ± 0.75 and 6.96% ± 0.76) and November in Tasmania and Victoria (7.34% ± 0.9 and 5.27% ± 0.81) potentially when feed availability and quality is highest. The incidence of dark cutting was highest for all states during the period from February to June. Lower pasture availability and quality in combination with higher levels of stress due to extreme high or low temperatures during this time could all contribute to the higher incidences. The findings of this study show that procurement and management decisions made by cattle buyers, producers and processors need to change throughout the year to help mitigate the incidence of dark cutting carcasses and reduce financial loss.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2014
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