How much do you know when your cattle are killed, processed and weighed in carcass form?
1. US dressing percentage typically range from 60% to 64% with the average of 63% USDA.
2. Australia typical dressing percentage is 51%.
3. Other factors including age, sex, weight and fat cover and the processor through trim they can significantly influence dressing percentage and hence the quantity of the carcass that reaches the scales and the bank balance.
4. In Australia processors take kidney along with kidney channel fat which does not happen before scales in the US.
5. People suggest that whizzer knives are used in a lot of cases to trim “excess fat” prior to scales thereby reducing the weight of the carcass for which producer receives payment.
6. AusMeat says when people complain about excessive trim, prior to scales, upon checking they usually find the processor claims to have been killing his own stock, when trimming was observed.
7. Producers who actually weigh animals before transport to processors often find the dressing percentage varies widely between processors.
8. Trial conducted in 1994, with 1634 cattle showed the lowest dressing percentage was 55.3 and the average 57.49%.
9. Senate hearing: one lamb producer produced a chart explaining dressing percentage weights and its variation between plants around the country.
10. Beast weighing 600kg live with a yield is dressing percentage 50% a 300 kg carcass at 55% dressing the same animal yields 330kg carcass.
11. In dollar terms 30kg extra carcass at five dollars a kilogram is an extra $150 to the producer, simply due to more saleable carcass being paid for by the processor.
12. Another example of processor initiated discounts is a producer who sold 341 cattle to one processor with no discounts for D muscle and another 159 to another processor resulting in 72 being heavily discounted because of D muscle costing 10s of $1000s.
13. D muscle Butt profile has been shown to have no scientific or practical reason for discount. It seems the only reason it is done is to allow processors use it as a discount tool.
14. When the beast is assessed and discounted as D muscle I would feel very certain that the company grader could not reliably and consistently pick the primals coming off such a beast.
15. Fat measurement is completely in the hands of the company grader. Cattle carcasses bought by the side can result in heavy financial penalties if they are not split evenly and one side can exceed the weight limits while the other can be well below the upper limit but when combined the whole carcass is within specifications. Weight specification should therefore be on a whole carcass rather than a side basis
16. How much meat from discounted carcasses actually ends up in the boxes with meat from carcasses that has not been discounted?
17. The fact is that you are completely in the hands of the processor and their employee who does the grading. It can be very difficult to prove there is anything amiss.
18. Surely the time has come when producers, who pay so much, can be totally confident that there beef carcasses, are being independently assessed and that they are being paid the true value of their product.
19. I suggest graders should be independent and employed by government and jointly funded by producers and processors with electronic systems in place whereby grader performance is constantly assessed and compared to normal standards with grading deviation outside an expected envelope automatically attracting a query. If nothing else such a system would remove the perception that processors are underpaying producers through graders being employees of processors that are loyal to them.
20. If people on the MLA, CCA or whoever are serious we can get a series of cattle slaughtered then weighed after carcass trimmed to AusMeat standards and stomach contents could be weighed, giving a real standard to work by.
21. Fact is Aus Meat Language standards committee is dominated by processors and nothing is going to change unless powers that be recognise there is a problem.
22. Solutions may include a service organisation run by the government with forecast recovery from producers and processors with independent graders being paid by a service organisation.