Improving MSA compliance in Queensland

15 June 2018

With late winter and spring identified as a challenging time for Queensland beef producers targeting Meat Standards Australia (MSA) requirements, here are some timely tips to help improve compliance.

MSA’s 2017 Australian Beef Eating Quality Insights  revealed average non-compliance for Queensland cattle throughout 2015–17 was the highest in August 2015, peaking again around spring in 2016, as a result of high pH (above 5.71).

MSA’s Program Manager Sarah Strachan said there were some key areas that producers can target to address pH and improve MSA compliance.

“Ultimate pH is heavily influenced by on-farm practices. There are two major components to this; nutrition and stress. Producers can maximise the amount of muscle glycogen, which is the energy stores of the muscle, at the point of slaughter by optimising nutrition and minimising stress," she said.

“Glycogen is depleted by stress, which could be brought on by any number of factors, some of which may be outside of your control, including extreme weather events.”

Sarah encouraged producers to look carefully at their production systems to identify what might be contributing to high pH.

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

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

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

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

Assess your cattle management in the lead up to slaughter to identify potential stressors. Some points to consider:

  • muster and handle stock as quietly and efficiently as possible
  • familiarise animals to handling and train stock persons in handling skills
  • maintain animals in their social groups (e.g. don’t mix mobs within 14 days of dispatch)
  • ensure livestock have access to water at all times prior to consignment.

Find information on the impact of farm management strategies on MSA compliance here.

Learn more about the requirements for handling cattle for compliance here.

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