Beef carcase classification

Find out more about carcase classification, the EUROP Grid and saleable meat yield.

What is carcase classification?

Carcase classification visually categorises the carcase according to its shape and fat cover. It also provides a common language to talk about carcase for trading purposes throughout the supply chain.

Many buyers will state the required classification as part of their ideal specification and the price paid per kilogram is linked to the classification. Getting carcases out of spec can significantly reduce the amount you get paid.

Meat yield

Meat yield is the total percentage of saleable meat from a carcase. It should not be confused with killing-out percentage, which is carcase weight as a percentage of the liveweight.

Carcase classification is underpinned by the amount of saleable meat yield on a carcase.

Fat level has the greatest influence on yield – the fatter the carcase, the less meat is available to sell.

Fat class 3 forerib
Fat class 5L forerib

Figure 1. Left: Fat class 3 forerib, right: Fat class 5L forerib

Better conformed carcases will yield a greater amount of saleable meat, especially higher value or premium cuts.

Percentage yield of meat for different carcase classifications table

The EUROP grid

Learn more about how the grid works and the differences between the traditional EUROP grid and the 15-point grid. Also, find information on VIA (Video Image Analysis).

The EUROP grid

Useful links

Understanding cattle and carcases

Virtual beef programme