Meat and sensory eating quality of loin steaks from cattle slaughtered at different ages as a result of short, medium or long finishing systems

JJ Hyslop, C-A Duthie, JA Rooke, RI Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: In the belief that feed costs and use of cereal grains are reduced, production systems based on grazed and conserved forage in which cattle are slaughtered at 30 to 36 months of age are increasingly advocated.

Aims: As there is a scarcity of information concerning meat quality traits of beef from such extended rearing systems, three finishing systems of different lengths (Short, 14–16 months; Medium, 20–24 months; Long, 31–34 months) were compared in which cattle were slaughtered at similar conformation and fat classification scores.

Methods: The experiment comprised a three (system) × two (gender) design with 24 Limousin cross-bred cattle (12 steers and 12 heifers) assigned to each system. Characteristics of the rib section (between and inclusive of the 5th and 10th ribs) and sensory properties of M. longissimus thoracis samples were then assessed.

Key results: Older (Long system) cattle had greater rib section and L. thoracis weights. L. thoracis was tougher in older (Long system) cattle when assessed by a trained sensory panel. Heifers had lower rib section weights than steers but neither rib section composition or meat toughness differed between genders. Gristle (visible connective tissue) in the rib section increased with system length and was associated with an increased perception of gristle on eating.

Conclusions: Overall meat quality was considered commercially acceptable regardless of system.

Implications: The likely increased greenhouse gas emissions but reduced utilisation of food resources from the Long system need to be considered in conjunction with the meat quality characteristics of the system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1624
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Production Science
Volume61
Issue number15
Early online date2 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Limousin
  • age at slaughter
  • beef
  • cereal grain-fed cattle
  • feedlot-type
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • gristle
  • meat quality
  • mechanical tenderness
  • rib section

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