Tips to se­cure MSA

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly -

AS QUEENS­LAND beef pro­duc­ers tar­get­ing Meat Stan­dards Aus­tralia (MSA) re­quire­ments face what is his­tor­i­cally the most chal­leng­ing time of the year for meet­ing com­pli­ance, here are some timely tips to help im­prove com­pli­ance, which have been com­piled for pro­duc­ers.

Av­er­age MSA non-com­pli­ance for Queens­land pro­duc­ers through­out 2018 peaked in July at 8.65 per cent, and re­mained high through­out Au­gust and Septem­ber, as a re­sult of high meat pH, which is a pH greater than 5.70.

A smaller pro­por­tion of cat­tle, less than 2 per cent, also did not meet MSA’s fat cov­er­age re­quire­ments of a min­i­mum of 3mm.

Queens­land pro­duc­ers con­signed more than 1.42 mil­lion head for MSA grad­ing in 2018, and to­tal non-com­pli­ance av­er­aged just over 7 per cent through­out the year.

With 65 per cent of Queens­land drought de­clared and many other live­stock pro­duc­tion ar­eas man­ag­ing on­go­ing dry con­di­tions, MSA producer en­gage­ment of­fi­cer, Laura Gar­land, said there were some key ar­eas pro­duc­ers could tar­get to ad­dress pH and im­prove MSA com­pli­ance.

“Ul­ti­mate pH is heav­ily in­flu­enced by on-farm prac­tices and there are two ma­jor com­po­nents to this – nutri­tion and stress,” Ms Gar­land said.

“Car­case pH lev­els are driven by mus­cle glyco­gen, which is built up through good nutri­tion and then de­pleted by stress.

“To ad­dress is­sues of non-com­pli­ance to pH, pro­duc­ers need to max­imise the amount of glyco­gen at the point of slaugh­ter by op­ti­mis­ing nutri­tion and min­imis­ing stress.”

Ms Gar­land en­cour­aged pro­duc­ers to look care­fully at their pro­duc­tion sys­tems to iden­tify what might be con­tribut­ing to is­sues of high pH.

“Mon­i­tor feed on of­fer and pas­ture qual­ity to achieve the de­sired rate of growth and a ris­ing plane of nutri­tion,” Ms Gar­land said.

“If you no­tice higher rates of dark cut­ting in your cat­tle de­spite abun­dant feed, do a feed test to clar­ify pas­ture qual­ity.

“If pas­ture is in short sup­ply, sup­ple­ment­ing cat­tle with other nu­tri­tious feed sources will help to op­ti­mise their per­for­mance.

“En­sur­ing that cat­tle are achiev­ing growth rates of at least 0.9kg/day will help to re­duce the risk of dark cut­ting.

“When cat­tle are gain­ing weight at these growth rates and above, their mus­cle glyco­gen will be ‘full’, al­low­ing them to cope with stres­sors like han­dling, ex­er­cise and trans­port and still have enough stored glyco­gen at the point of slaugh­ter.

“A high-en­ergy ra­tion for at least 30 days be­fore slaugh­ter can in­crease mus­cle glyco­gen and re­duce the risk of dark cut­ting.”

Ms Gar­land said pro­duc­ers should also as­sess their cat­tle man­age­ment in the lead up to slaugh­ter to iden­tify po­ten­tial stres­sors and con­sider the fol­low­ing tips:

■ Muster and han­dle stock as qui­etly and ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.

■ Fa­mil­iarise an­i­mals with han­dling and train stock per­sons in han­dling skills.

■ Main­tain an­i­mals in their so­cial groups – don’t mix mobs within 14 days of dis­patch.

■ En­sure live­stock have ac­cess to wa­ter at all times prior to con­sign­ment.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PRE­MIUM PRICE: It’s a chal­leng­ing time of year for pro­duc­ers to reach MSA com­pli­ance.

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