To gain approval for use in the revised European Community (EC) Pig Grading Scheme to be introduced in 1989, methods of estimating carcass lean proportion must be shown to do so with a coefficient of determination greater than 0·64 and a residual s.d. of less than 25 g/kg. A trial was carried out to assess a number of methods for use in the EC Scheme as applied in Great Britain. Subcutaneous fat and m. longissimus depths at the head of the last rib and at the third/fourth from last rib were measured using the optical probe (OP), the Fat-O-Meater (FOM), the Hennessy Grading Probe II (HGP) and the Destron PG-100 Probe (DST) on a broad sample of 162 commercial carcasses representative of the ranges in fatness and weight found nationally. The left side of each carcass was separated into component tissues. Although the instruments all achieved similar levels of accuracy in predicting carcass lean proportion, some differences were found. The DST just failed to reach the required statistical criteria for approval in the EC Scheme. The results for the other three instruments were submitted to Brussels as evidence of suitability and they have been approved.
Using the regression relationships found between carcass composition and fat thickness together with results from earlier studies, it was estimated that the carcass separable fat proportion of British slaughter pigs has fallen at the annual rate of 7 g/kg since 1975.