Cattle from three cohorts were followed from rearing to slaughter in a lifetime study of the factors affecting the quantity and quality of saleable meat produced. The cattle were from either Hereford or Charolais sires, were either heifers or steers and were either bucket reared or suckled. Winter feeding treatments were imposed using different levels of concentrates in combination with ad lib grass silage. During the following summer the cattle grazed pastures with two different grass heights. A portion of the cattle were slaughtered at turnout (May), and during June/July, August, September, November and the following April. The present paper reports studies of carcass cooling characteristics and the eating quality of the meat. Immediately after slaughter, in commercial abattoirs, probes were attached to the carcasses and the temperature was monitored for approximately 36 hours. Although considerable variation was observed in cooling rates this could not be attributed to animal production factors. However, a weak relationship was observed with condition score (fat content) measured on the live animal immediately prior to slaughter. Carcasses from animals with higher condition scores cooled more slowly. The eating quality of the meat was assessed by a consumer panel consisting of staff and students from Queen Margaret University College. Although large differences in eating quality were recorded, these differences could not be attributed to animal production factors. Beef producers should therefore maximise production of saleable meat from each animal whilst minimising the cost of so doing
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