The carcass composition of Hereford × Friesian (HE), Friesian (FR) and Charolais × Friesian (CH) steers finished on diets of high (H) and medium (M) dietary metabolizable energy (ME) concentrations and slaughtered at low (L), normal (N) and heavy (W) carcass weights was examined in a 3 × 2 × 3 (no. = 9 per individual treatment) factorial experiment. A pre-finishing slaughter group of nine animals of each breed type was also included, giving a total 189 animals in 21 experimental groups. ME concentrations of the H and M diets which were offered ad libitum were 12·6 and 10·4 MJ/kg dry matter. Target carcass weights for L, N and W were 260, 300 and 340 kg for HE and FR and 260, 320 and 380 kg for CH.
Carcass side weights (before tissue separation) of the HE, FR and CH pre-finishing slaughter groups were 90·8, 970 and 101·0 (s.e.d. 3·9) kg. Corresponding tissue proportions were 188, 199 and 200 (s.e.d. 4·3) g/kg bone, 663, 686 and 690 (s.e.d. 5·3) g/kg muscle and 135, 99 and 96 (s.e.d. 5·7) g/kg fat. Main effect side weights of the finished groups were 152·3, 151·4 and 162·2 (s.e.d. 1·4) kg for HE, FR and CH. 158·5 and 152·2 (s.e.d. 1·1) kg for H and M and 131·2, 155·2 and 179·6 (s.e.d. 1·4) kg for L, N and W, respectively. Tissue proportions in the same order were 146, 160 and 157 (s.e.d. 2·0), 149 and 159 (s.e.d. 1·6) and 163, 154 and 146 (s.e.d. 2·0) g/kg bone, 579, 601 and 635 (s.e.d. 5·5), 600 and 610 (s.e.d. 4·5) and 637, 599 and 574 (s.e.d. 5·5) g/kg muscle and 264, 228 and 195 (s.e.d. 6·4), 240 and 219 (s.e.d. 5·2) and 188, 235 and 264 (s.e.d. 6·4) g/kg fat. CH had more (P < 0·001) of their muscle in the pelvic limb and less (P < 0001) in the thorax than HE and FR. HE had more (P < 0·001) of their carcass fat in the subcutaneous depot and less (P < 0·001) in the intermuscular depot than FR and CH. The allometric regression coefficients for the main joint and tissue weights on side weight were <1·0 for both limbs, loin, bone and muscle. Coefficients were >1·0 for the thorax, ribs, flank and fat. The regression coefficients for the main muscles of the pelvic limb and loin and total thoracic limb muscle on total side muscle were <l·0, while the coefficients for the flank, ribs and thorax muscles were >1·0. Similarly the regression coefficients for the bones of the two limbs on total side bone were <10, while the coefficients for the loin, ribs and thorax bones were >10. It was calculated (for the H diet) that at a carcass weight of 300 kg, HE, FR and CH would have carcass tissue proportions of 576, 600 and 642 g/kg muscle and 261, 227 and 180 g/kg fat. The three breed types would have similar carcass fat contents at carcass weights of 264, 300 and 376 kg for HE, FR and CH, respectively.