Perception of consultants, feedlot owners, and packers regarding the optimal economic slaughter endpoint in feedlots: A national survey in Brazil (Part I)
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Little information exists regarding the optimal economic slaughter endpoint (OSE) for feedlot-finished cattle in Brazil. This study investigated the perceptions of Brazilian feeders regarding the optimal time for slaughter. A total of 52 interviews were conducted involving nutritionist-consultants (n = 23), feedlot owners (n = 21), and packer-owned feedlots (n = 8). The results showed that 65% of the interviewees used weight and fat cover, both estimated visually, to determine the moment for slaughter. Identifying the ideal time for slaughter was considered a challenge for respondents, and 85% of them recognized that their current slaughter endpoint identification method needed improvements. Regarding decision support systems, 58% of respondents reported they would purchase a computer program to help identify OSE, and 73% would be interested in incorporating a prototype of such a system into their feedlots. Carcass dressing (38%) and price (25%) were the main factors driving the feeder’s choice of meatpacker, followed by carcass premiums (10%). Meat quality was found to be an irrelevant criterion for Brazilian meatpackers in awarding both premiums (5%) and deductions (3%). Slaughter endpoint is determined subjectively by the Brazilian feeders, based on a visual evaluation of both weight and fatness.