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Ensuring Cattle Meet Abattoir and Market Expectations

BeefBy Phil Kemsley, District Veterinarian
Abattoirs have a high standard for the quality of cattle that they receive for slaughter. As food processing establishments, they are in the business of turning quality cattle into quality beef and animal products.

Cattle producers are in the business of producing quality cattle that meet market specifications for age, fat cover and muscle score. But consideration also needs to be made of presenting cattle that are of low risk of carcase, offal or hide downgrades or condemnations. And as a minimum meet the animal welfare standards expected by the industry.

Actions that can be taken on farm to reduce these risks include;

Have cattle that meet the animal welfare standards;

Cattle not fit to load include;

  • Those in the last month of pregnancy
  • Those with cancer eye more than 2cm diameter
  • Cattle that are blind, including from Pink Eye
  • Cattle that are lame or unable to bear weight evenly on all four feet
  • Cattle in poor condition
  • Cattle that are overheated, panting, fevered or exhausted including from Three Day Sickness
  • Those with injuries, cuts or abscesses
  • Cows with prolapses
  • Bulls with pizzle injuries where they may stand on it
  • Cattle with ingrown horns, if horn tip has penetrated the skin

If in doubt leave it out or contact the abattoir.

Reduce the risk of hide downgrades;

  • Maintain fences, in particular tension on barbed wire fences, to reduce cuts
  • Control lantana, cockspur and other plants likely to cause skin injury
  • Have control programs in place for external parasites, such as ticks, buffalo fly and lice
  • Where possible seek alternatives to branding

Reduce the risk of meat downgrades through bruising and muscle damage;

  • Yards that do not have protruding objects
  • Breed for polled cattle
  • Trim horns
  • Draft and load cattle according to class and weight
  • Vaccinate and give injections high on the neck and as directed

Reduce the risk of offal downgrades;

  • Check whether Liver Fluke is on your holding and implement a control program
  • Reduce Hydatids through wild dog control, drenching of farm dogs and on farm offal disposal

Reduce the risk of residues;

  • Ensure that National Vendor Declarations are completed in full and correctly
  • Keep records of all treatments given, product, dose rate, cattle treated and date
  • Observe withholding periods for all treatments
  • Exclude cattle from risk areas such as around houses, sheds, chemical stores, chemical mixing areas, dip sites and farm dumps
  • Do not use unregistered remedies, e.g. oil of turpentine

If you would like to speak to your District Veterinarian, they are located in our offices at Casino, Lismore, South Grafton and Kempsey.  Visit the Contact Us page for details.