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    Beef carcasses in Europe are classified on measures of carcass weight, conformation, and fat cover. These measurements provide the basis for payment to producers, with financial penalties for carcasses that do not conform to desirable characteristics. The objective of the present study was to identify animal-level factors associated with the achievement of a desirable carcass weight, conformation score, fat score, and age at harvest, as stipulated by Irish beef processors in accordance with the EUROP carcass classification system. The stipulated specifications were a EUROP conformation score ≥O=, a carcass weight between 270 and 380 kg, a EUROP fat score between 2+ and 4=, and an age at harvest ≤ 30 mo. In the present study, 59% of cattle failed to achieve at least one of these desired specifications. The logit of the probability of achieving the desired specifications was estimated using multivariable logistic regression and carcass data from 4,717,989 cattle finished and harvested in Ireland between the years 2003 and 2017. In comparison to beef-origin carcasses and after accounting for breed differences, the likelihood of dairy-origin carcasses achieving the desired age, conformation, fat, and weight specifications was 0.97, 0.88, 1.14, and 1.05, respectively. In comparison to heifer carcasses, the odds ratio (OR) of bull and steer carcasses simultaneously achieving all of the desired specifications (i.e. the overall specification) was 0.35 and 0.95, respectively. Additionally, after accounting for breed differences, heifers from the dairy herd were half as likely as heifers from the beef herd to achieve the overall specification, whereas the odds of dairy-origin bulls (OR = 3.46) and steers (OR = 2.41) achieving the overall specification was greater than that of their respective beef-origin counterparts. Finally, cattle with a greater breed proportion of Angus were most likely to achieve the overall specification. Results from the present study could provide a deeper understanding as to why animals fail to achieve desirable carcass specifications and could be implemented into the management decisions made on farm to ensure that the supply of beef carcasses that achieve the desired metrics is maximized. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    David Kenny, Craig P Murphy, Roy D Sleator, Michelle M Judge, Ross D Evans, Donagh P Berry. Animal-level factors associated with the achievement of desirable specifications in Irish beef carcasses graded using the EUROP classification system. Journal of animal science. 2020 Jul 01;98(7)

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    PMID: 32516387

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