Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Development of the BeefSpecs fat calculator to assist decision making to increase compliance rates with beef carcass specifications

B. J. Walmsley A B C , M. J. McPhee A B and V. H. Oddy A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Beef Industry Centre of Excellence, Trevenna Road, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: brad.walmsley@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science 54(12) 2003-2010 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14611
Submitted: 30 May 2014  Accepted: 22 July 2014   Published: 2 September 2014

Abstract

The BeefSpecs fat calculator is a decision-support system developed to assist decision making on-farm to improve compliance rates with beef carcass specifications. BeefSpecs is underpinned by a research model run in conjunction with a translation process that converts inputs recorded in live animal and carcass assessment language into research model parameters. In contrast to many other research modelling systems, the changes in body composition predicted by the research model that underpins BeefSpecs are driven by growth rate. Use of this model removes the need for information concerning feed intake and dietary characteristics, which are impractical to collect on a routine basis in commercial production systems. A translation process was developed to use traits that are recorded routinely on-farm during normal production activities while allowing the original modelling system to run efficiently and accurately. This process aligns BeefSpecs with the language used by industry and increases the confidence of users in the underlying model theories. The outputs produced by BeefSpecs include final liveweight, final subcutaneous fat depth and hot standard carcass weight at the end of a specified feeding period. These traits contribute to the carcass specifications used to determine carcass value in the domestic and international markets supplied by the Australian beef industry, which directly aligns BeefSpecs with the decision-making styles of beef producers. During the development of BeefSpecs, potential users were consulted and enlisted in the evaluation process.

Additional keywords: beef cattle, body composition, dynamic models, live animal assessment.


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