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Extended livestock transportation may impact tenderness

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A new study on the impact of extended transportation time on the eating quality of beef will be the focus on a newly commissioned Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) funded research.

It has been said that the research may have far reaching implications for the production of MLA-graded beef.

According to Meat Standards Australia (MSA), the current transportation requirement is that cattle are to be processed (slaughtered) the day after dispatch, which limits maximum transportation time to approximately 24 hours.

Apart from the extended transport duration, the Department of Primary Industries Victoria (DPI) recommends that the condition, size and design of the vehicle needs to be factored in the overall transport and care of cattle. In terms of transporting bobby calves, the shortest route should be taken when transporting them.

The research will look into the effect of transport duration on MSA scores which will monitor 352 Bos indicus-cross and Bos taurus animals, sourced from four collaborating properties in south and central Queensland.

The cattle will be transported for four different periods of transport of up to 36 hours, and the lairage up to 12 hours before slaughter at JBS Australia’s Dinmore processing facility.

One treatment will look at the benefits of rest during longer duration transport. Furthermore, blood and urine samples will be collected from all animals at the time of slaughter, and striploin samples will be taken for sensory testing at time of boning.

Whether or not longer transport periods will impact on MSA eating quality is yet to be determined, with project findings expected to be released early next year.

According to the MSA, how cattle are handled affects their eating quality, suggesting that there are other factors to be considered. This includes:

  • Dispatch time of cattle from its purchase to relocation to another property or saleyard
  • Poor temperament or signs of severe stress
  • Mixing cattle from different holding pens within two weeks of dispatch
  • Feed rations and access to water
  • Transportation loading method

Photo: a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from MilkaWay's Flickr photo stream

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