The process of cattle handling has been refined over time. Unfortunately, the industry still hasn’t found a way to eliminate bruises or injuries completely.
Because an animal’s injury can damage its carcass, it can also damage your bottom line.
The good news is, you can do things to prevent bruises on your cattle.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how bruising can affect carcass quality and what you can do to prevent it.
Why Bruising Affects Carcass Quality in Livestock
Bruising is a common injury in livestock that can negatively affect carcass quality. Bruises occur when blood vessels are damaged, causing blood to leak into the surrounding tissues leading to discoloration and swelling of the affected area.
Bruising is a common injury in livestock and can significantly impact meat quality. You see, when an animal becomes bruised, the muscle tissue is damaged, and the cells are destroyed. This damage causes the muscle fibers to break down and the meat to become softer and less flavorful.
Most bruises occur during the transportation, handling, or housing of livestock.
Additionally, bruising can occur during slaughter and processing, and sometimes the farmer has little control over this part of the process.
Bruising can negatively affect carcass quality in several ways.
For example, bruises can:
- Cause meat to be discolored and less attractive to consumers.
- Lead to meat spoilage, making it less safe to eat.
- Make meat tougher and less desirable.
- Cause reduced shelf life
- Cause trim losses
Bruising is a common injury in livestock, but it doesn’t have to be. Producers can do things to reduce the incidence of bruising in their animals.
How Livestock Bruising Affects the Bottom Line
Livestock bruising can have a significant impact on profitability. Bruises not only affect the value of the meat but can also result in increased handling and processing costs. In addition, bruises can lead to increased weight loss due to stress on the animal.
And, let’s not forget that bruising can lead to increased handling and processing costs and animal welfare concerns. As such, producers need to take steps to minimize bruising and maximize profit.
All of these factors can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
Common Reasons for Livestock Bruising
There are many reasons for bruising in livestock. Most causes of bruising in livestock include trauma (such as from rough handling), infection, and inflammation.
In some cases, underlying health conditions such as liver disease or blood disorders can also cause bruising. If you notice that your livestock is bruising easily, talk to your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems and develop a plan to correct the problem.
Additionally, animals may bruise easily due to thin skin or poor muscle tone.
Lastly, some animals are simply more prone to bruising than others.
Injury, Stress, and the Effect on Carcass Quality
It’s well known that stress affects human health, but it’s also a significant factor in the quality of livestock carcasses. Stressful conditions during transport and slaughter can lead to the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones, which can impact the quality of the meat.
Studies have shown that pre-slaughter stress can lead to reduced carcass quality, including increased muscle glycogen levels, lactic acid, and pH.
These changes can result in tougher, dryer meat with less flavor. In addition, stress can also lead to reduced marbling and fat cover, which can further impact the quality of the meat.
All this to say, injury (i.e., bruising) can be stressful on an animal. In general, it’s essential to keep your livestock injury and stress-free.
How to Prevent Bruising During Livestock Handling
There are several ways to prevent livestock bruising during handling, and perhaps the most important is to ensure that animals are handled correctly and gently.
For example, using appropriate handling techniques and equipment, and avoiding sudden or forceful movements will go a long way in preventing injury.
Another critical way to prevent injury is to avoid overcrowding animals in pens or yards, which can lead to the jostling that causes bruising. If possible, provide ample space for animals to move around freely.
Finally, inspecting animals regularly for bruises to identify and address potential problems is essential.
A well-organized and efficient livestock management system will help prevent injury to your animals (and prevent loss of profit). When selecting your system, just be sure to use equipment for handling your specific animal.
With a bit of extra work, you can have a safe system for animals, all while improving your profits.