Introduction to the challenge addressed

The effects of the work of the farmer who fatten cattle for beef production is always measured at the end of the cycle, when animals are slaughtered. It is possible to evaluate the shapes and to measure the weight, but not the right moment of maturation of the animal or the quality of its meat. A portable instrument to measure the characteristics of the body of the live animal would give a great help to the farmers and to the whole operators involved in the production of meat.


Description of Innovation

Ultrasound scans of the Longissimus Dorsi muscle (loin) is taken with a portable scanner.  For each animal, an ultrasound image is selected for texture analysis, which is performed using a specific software. The procedure is not invasive for the animal and with minimal safety procedures since the measurements are relatively quick.

This practice was applied in different beef farms in the Veneto Region, and with the utilization of containment facilities already available, revealed to be of easy application. The firm who made the instrument is working on simplification of the software as some interest was raised in farmers and especially animal nutrition specialists.


Impact on farm performance

This technique offers the possibility to detect at what level of the fattening period an animal is, if its fattening is optimal for the market requirements, so if it ready to be sent to slaughter. Plus, it gives information on the quality of the meat. The importance at farm level also stands in the fact that the practice allows to reveal problems in feeding plans or in animal managements (detect stress causes or pathologies that impair the growth of an animal). Lastly, the present technology could be used for genetic selection.

During the application of the technique most of the interest was shown by the farmers but especially by nutrition specialists: in fact it is very interesting and useful to know whether different formulation of diets generates different fat content in muscle. Veterinarians considered the practice useful to understand the effect of welfare conditions on growth and quality of beef of animals during their fattening process.


Audio-visual material



    The detection of the image with the ultrasound portable scanner





Farmer comment (for Good Practices)

Farmers who witnessed the application of this practice were very interested on the possibilities it gives. Besides the fundamental importance of monitoring the growth of the animal as response to managing factors, they see a good chance to bargain for better or fairer prices with the buyer of finished cattle, having a better knowledge of the real quality of the product.


Further information - Dipartimento di Medicina Animale, Produzione e Salute (MAPS)  – Università degli Studi di Padova – Informatore Zootecnico n. 9 del 20/05/2022 in “Dossier allevamento del bovino da carne”