This study was conducted to evaluate beef carcass characteristics of cattle slaughtered at local abattoirs in Ethiopia. About 10% of carcasses (3080) were collected from Adama, Hawassa, Mekelle and Kombolcha abattoirs between August 2013 and January 2014. The results of the study showed that 98.56% of cattle slaughtered were indigenous cattle while 1.44% was Holstein Frisian. The average carcass weight of indigenous cattle was 135.90 + 0.69 kg. Carcass weight was significantly (p<0.001) different between abattoirs, season, conformation grades, fat grades and categories of cattle. Conformation grade 1, 2 and 3 accounted for 30, 34.29 and 35.71% of carcasses evaluated, respectively. Fat grade1, 2 and 3 accounted for 67.5, 23.57 and 8.93% of carcasses evaluated, respectively. Intact bulls, castrated bulls, growing bulls and cows accounted for 26.07, 64.64, 3.95 and 5.36% cattle slaughtered, respectively. Higher carcass weight, higher proportion of superior conformation and fat grade were observed in the wet season compared to the dry season. Inferior conformation and fat grades were relatively higher for cows (80 and 84.42%) and castrated bulls (37.57 and 67.96%) compared to other categories of cattle. From the study it was concluded that the use of dairy beef was very low in Ethiopia. The proportion of carcass with little /no fat cover (fat grade 1) was very high. The relatively better carcasses weight, conformation and fat grades in the wet season compared to the dry season indicates the opportunities to improve carcass weight and quality through better feeding management.
Key words: Beef carcass weight, conformation and fat grades, local abattoirs, Ethiopia.
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