Cattle from the Brahman BIN project with Mark Wilson, Banana Station, North Queensland, where steers are backgrounded and finished, and chairman of the ABBA technical committee Brett Coombe and MLA board member Jeff Maynard.THE increasing emergence of scientific evidence indicating the condition of a beef animal and how fast it grows is what affects eating quality has northern Australian producers turning up the heat on calls for hump height to be removed from Meat Standards Australia criteria.
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However, it doesn’t appear the controversial calculation is likely to be removed from the equation any time soon, with MSA representatives pointing to consumer taste testing as being the ruling factor.

At the moment, those tests are saying non-hump is better eating quality, according to MSA operations manager Sarah Stachan.

The world-leading Brahman benchmarking progeny test, Beef Information Nucleus(BIN), which has involved 844 steers from 73 bulls, is showing with good growth paths, hump height has no correlation to MSA grading.

MSA is the key eating quality measurement tool for Australian beef, and in the last financial year delivered an average premium of $91 a head to cattle which made the grade, equating to $240m across the industry.

As the results of the BIN project were outlined at the 2016 World Brahman Congress in Rockhampton, Queensland, this week, producers questioned MSA representatives on why hump size was still measured, saying it discriminated against Bos Indicus cattle.

Their calls gained some support from research scientist at Central Queensland University Nick Corbet, who said the BIN data showed no relationship between hump height and shear force (tenderness) measurements.

He said intramuscular fat and marbling had a big impact on eating quality and could clearly be selected for within the Brahman breed.

Ms Sachan told the congress changes to the MSA model would only come about via consumer testing protocol.

Hump height had so far proven a ‘relatively good indicator’ of potential impact on eating quality, she said.

Chairman of the Australian Brahman Breeders Association technical committee Brett Coombe said the way to get hump height out of MSA was to identify the bulls that produce a better quality product.

He explained the MSA model was driven by continual growth, which was one of the big challenges of beef production in northern Australia.

“Our cattle simple don’t have the growth paths available in southern Australia,” he said.

“Where .8 to .9 kilograms a day on pasture is common in the south, we struggle to get .5,” he said.

The BIN project was making great advancements in allowing the breed to identify genetic variations and select for eating quality, amongst other traits, which would allow for optimising MSA pathways in northern Australia, he said.

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