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Going over the hook

MSA Dark cutting beef

Central Tablelands LLS Livestock Officer, Brett Littler

November is the time each year we see a spike in Dark Cutting or high ph beef. This is caused by the decline in the quality of pasture and this leads to a lower level of muscle glycogen or sugars.

If you are trading over the hooks then there are a few things that you can do to minimise the risk.

Don't decide to sell cattle the day before. Correct preparation minimises the risk of dark cutting. It is recommended that cattle are (CRC fact sheet Producers can eliminate 'Dark Cutting'); 

  • Gaining more than 0.8kg per day in the weeks prior to slaughter
  • Directly consigned to minimise the number of 'new' environments prior to slaughter
  • Drafted for slaughter 2 or 3 weeks prior to trucking to allow the re-establishment of pecking order
  • Yard weaned or feedlot finished so cattle are well adapted to human contact and changes in environment
  • Mustered carefully with no vigorous exercise or use of electric prodders, minimal stress and minimal use of dogs
  • Avoid heifers in oestrus and cattle with HGPs which are still within the 'pay-out' period to avoid changes in behaviour
  • Consigned in mobs greater than 60 head where possible to reduce individual animal stress
  • More muscular as they have higher concentrations of glycogen and a lower susceptibility to stress
  • Fed magnesium oxide powder at a rate of 1% for four days prior to marketing where possible as this reduces the impact of stress on muscle glycogen. Ensure all cattle have adequate magnesium levels.
  • Not transported during very hot, very cold or stormy weather
  • Provided access to clean fresh water as thirst and dehydration exacerbate the impacts of stress

For further information

Brett Littler | P: 02 6372 4044 | e: