Maturity or ossification is a measure of the physiological maturity of a carcase, that is, the process of cartilage turning to bone in the vertebrae. The amount of bone development determines the ossification score.
Ossification is used in place of dentition in MSA grading, as it is a more accurate predictor of eating quality.
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An increase in ossification (or maturity) results in a decrease in eating quality. This is due to an increase in connective tissue in muscles that causes toughness in cooked meat.
During MSA grading, ossification is scored on a scale of 100-590 in increments of 10. This score is combined with carcase weight as a means of estimating growth path.
Eating quality is optimised when cattle have a consistent growth path and reach their target weight at a younger age.
A low score is preferable for higher eating quality.
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