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Development and evaluation of Video Image Analysis (VIA) systems to monitor growth and carcass quality in live beef animals - LK0673

Sustainable Livestock Production LINK Programme

Project LK0673F: Development and evaluation of Video Image Analysis (VIA) systems to monitor growth and carcass quality in live beef animals


Start Date: 01/04/2007 End Date: 30/09/2008

As a consequence of recent changes to EU agricultural support mechanisms, beef producers must now look to increased financial returns from the marketplace to maintain and improve the sustainability of their beef enterprises. Delivering a greater proportion of carcasses to the food chain that meet the target specifications for weight, carcass fat and conformation classes is one of the major routes to achieving higher financial returns. Doing so at minimum input costs (particularly feed), with minimal environmental impact, requires that cattle are marketed as soon as they reach these required specifications.

This project proposes to examine the feasibility of Video Image Analysis (VIA) systems to assess the weight and carcass composition of live animals during the finishing period. If existing VIA systems for pigs and sheep could be modified to function with live beef animals, they could provide a valuable management tool to assist in the delivery of high quality beef carcasses that hit target specification required by the abattoir. This would be preferentially at minimal costs to the producer and the environment.

The duration of this Feasibility LINK proposal is 18 months, during which VIA system techniques will be developed and evaluated for live beef cattle under typical UK commercial farming conditions. Existing pig and latterly sheep VIA systems have been developed with considerable success and are able to predict both live-weight and carcass fatness and conformation gradings with a high degree of accuracy. A live pig VIA system, developed with LINK funding (LK 0614), is currently marketed commercially.

This proposal will evaluate the potential of the existing live animal VIA systems with growing and finishing beef cattle by conducting a series of trials. The aim of these trials will be to modify and adapt both fixed equipment (pen architecture), imaging equipment (cameras, lighting) and define the required changes to image processing and analysis (predictive measurement) processes, so that accurate prediction of finished cattle weights, carcass gradings and the proportion of high value cuts (e.g. sirloin) in the carcass can be achieved in real time. This will assist producers, auction markets and abattoirs in delivering cattle of target specification throughout the beef supply chain. Once initial trials have developed the BEEFVIA systems suited to live beef cattle, an experiment will be conducted with finishing steers where continuous and finished live-weight, carcass weight and gradings and high value cut proportion data will be gathered for each individual animal to validate the accuracy of the developed system.

Once the BEEFVIA system has been developed, the final stage of this project will be to determine its potential value within a beef finishing system that utilises VIA as an integral part of the management and marketing of finishing beef cattle. This project will also assess the potential for further BEEFVIA developments on-farm and potentially at live auction markets and make recommendations on the feasibility, scope, and likely success of a full LINK project designed to refine and further develop the live beef animal BEEFVIA concept. If appropriate, preparations for a full LINK proposal will be initiated during the closing stages of this project.

Dr Jimmy Hyslop
SAC Select Services
FBS Area Office
Bush Estate
EH26 0PH

Scotbeef Ltd
Osbourne (Europe) Ltd
John Swan Ltd
Silsoe Livestock Systems Ltd


Project Documents
• Executive Summary : Development and evaluation of Video Image Analysis (VIA) systems to monitor growth and carcass quality in live beef animals   (4076k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2008

Cost: £116,999
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Scottish Agricultural College, Silsoe Livestock Systems Ltd, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Scotbeef Ltd, Osborne (Europe) Ltd, John Swan Ltd
Carcass Evaluation              
Livestock Farming              
Meat Quality              
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain