Consolidating the gains of recent years, comfortably over 50% of all classes of carcase met the 'R or better' target for conformation.
"Encouragingly, these quality improvements were achieved at the same time as a increase in average carcase weights for all classes."
Practical guidance to support continued improvements in carcase quality is available free of charge to English levy payers through the EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme, accessible at www.eblex.org.uk
However, with 48% of carcases still lacking in conformation and well over half failing to meet both the preferred conformation and leanness targets, there clearly remains considerable room for improvement in responding to the demands of the modern beef market.
More detailed analysis reveals year-on-year improvements in both the leanness and conformation of all three classes of stock ( steers, heifers and young bulls ( to record the best all-round English beef carcase quality of recent years.
This is supported by the reduction in the average carcase weights of lambs slaughtered in English abattoirs also recorded by MLC ( from 20.1kg in 2005 to 19.6kg last year.
The slight annual decline in English carcase
quality was evident in both steers and heifers, although young bull quality improved somewhat, following its noticeable decline in 2004.
Animal health inspector Michael Moffitt told the court the state of some of the carcases suggested they had been left lying in the sheds or field for several days.
The rotting remains of six cows and calves were found in two barns at South Dissington Farm near Ponteland and a seventh carcase was lying in an open field close to where other cattle were grazing.
More detailed analysis of the data revealed that the carcases under 250kg also classified markedly less well than those weighing over 300kg.
At the same time, half of the underweight fat class 2 carcases fell into the heavy penalty P class for conformation.
Ms Browne said: "Together with the differences in carcase weight but excluding any underweight penalties, the poorer quality of these lighter carcases would reduce returns by at least another pounds 100 per head.