Beef Carcase Traits Project – The Breeds Involved
Beef producers in the UK aim to produce high quality meat as efficiently as possible but ultimately, payments for cattle relate to their carcase weight, conformation and fatness – with producers aiming for an R4L carcase or better on the EUROP grid.
To provide commercial producers with better tools to aid bull selection, AHDB Beef & Lamb, AHDB Dairy and HCC funded a research project at SRUC to generate EBVs for carcase traits using actual abattoir generated carcase data. This means that breeders can more accurately tailor their breeding to market demands and goals. Currently, we indirectly select for carcase traits through growth measurements and ultrasound scanning on live cattle to measure fat and muscle depth. However, this project aims to help producer’s select breeding stock based on EBVs produced directly from abattoir derived carcase data.
The project merges abattoir data with other national databases to produce beef genetic evaluations on actual carcase weight, conformation and fat class for breeds with sufficient numbers of records – including Holstein cattle. This project is nearing completion and has collected 4.8 million carcase records from a wide range of abattoirs that have been matched with national databases, including BCMS, to create a “super-pedigree” for each individual animal.
Analysis of these abattoir records for carcase weight in relation to age, carcase conformation and carcase fat classification has shown heritability values ranging from 0.4 to over 0.6. This indicates eventual selection based on carcase EBVs will be successful and result in increased genetic gain – which is an exciting prospect for the beef industry.
Currently, nearly three million UK beef and dairy animals have had preliminary EBVs produced for the new traits. The table below shows the number of sires involved separated by breed.
||Number of Sires
||Number of Sires
|Belted Welsh Black
||Meuse Rhine Issel
||Swedish Red & White
These EBVs will increase in reliability and accuracy as more cattle are included in the dataset. When the sire is known, BCMS data can be used to create genetic links across the bovine population providing huge potential for the cattle industry to move forward as one to create as many target cattle as possible in the R4L range. However in the time being, the increased recording of sires would enhance the number of animals that could be included that will feedback for breed improvement.