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

BeefSpecs fat calculator to assist decision making to increase compliance rates with beef carcass specifications: evaluation of inputs and outputs

M. J. McPhee A B D , B. J. Walmsley A B , D. G. Mayer A C 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 Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: malcolm.mcphee@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science 54(12) 2011-2017 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14614
Submitted: 31 May 2014  Accepted: 22 July 2014   Published: 3 September 2014

Abstract

This study evaluated the BeefSpecs fat calculator, a decision-support system developed to assist the beef industry to increase compliance rates with carcass specifications (weight and fat specifications). A challenge to the BeefSpecs calculator and a sensitivity analysis were used to evaluate the inputs and outputs of BeefSpecs. Five industry datasets (n = 80, 97, 68, 25, and 13 for Datasets 1–5, respectively) of Bos taurus, Bos indicus, and Bos taurus × Bos indicus breeds for steers and heifers were collated to challenge BeefSpecs, and a nine-way factorial matrix (n = 57 600) of input variables was created for the sensitivity analysis. There were no significant (P > 0.05) differences in the mean bias between observed and predicted values in any of the datasets but there were significant (P < 0.01) differences in the unity of slope for Datasets 2, 3, and 5. The root-mean-square error was 1.72, 2.61, 2.87, 2.68, and 2.00 mm for Datasets 1–5. The decomposition of the mean-square error of prediction indicated that most of the error contained in the predictions of all models was of a random nature (94%, 85%, 85%, 95% for Datasets 1–4), except in Dataset 5, which had a 47% proportion of error in the slope component. All datasets indicated little bias (0.13%, 12.19%, 12.69%, 0.60%, and 0.12% for Datasets 1–5) in the model predictions. An analysis of variance with the nine-way factorial matrix on the predicted output of final P8 fat was conducted for the sensitivity analysis. A significant (P < 0.01) four-way interaction of days on feed × frame score × initial liveweight × sex was detected. Final P8 fat was sensitive to measurement error in the inputs of frame score when animals had longer feeding periods (e.g. 180 days) and to initial P8 fat when animals had lower initial liveweights (e.g. 200 kg) and higher frame scores (e.g. 7). For each unit of error in estimating frame score, BeefSpecs predicts final P8 with an error of up to 2.3 mm in heifers and up to 1.7 mm in steers. Error in the estimation of initial P8 fat of 2 mm will result in an error of up to 3 mm in the prediction of final P8 fat. The sensitivity analysis of BeefSpecs input variables (frame score and initial P8 fat) on the prediction of final P8 fat indicates that increasing the accuracy of estimating frame score and P8 fat is an issue that needs addressing.

Additional keywords: cattle, DSS, frame score, P8 fat depth.


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