Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Beef is beef?

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Beef is beef is beef – or is it? Does an injection of dairy genes into a beef herd mean the meat will be different once the skin comes off? Recent research comparing meat characteristics of four breed lines of crossbred 20 to 24-month-old steers suggests there are no significant differences between different dairy and beef breed cross animals.
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The parameters tested by Dr Nicola Schreurs with C Alma Baker Trust funding included pH, meat colour, fat colour, shear force test (tenderness), expressed juice drip loss, cooked weight loss, muscle fibre make-up, intramuscular fat levels and fatty acid composition.

The IMF and fatty acid composition results are yet to be released and might show variability although there were no significant differences in the ultrasound scanning IMF levels.

The stack of loins to be tested from four lines of cattle.

The next crop of calves is 18 months old and will be finished to final weight before undergoing similar testing being funded by B+LNZ.

Feed efficiency and production efficiency would be interesting to study, Hickson said, given that the heaviest (Angus) cows weaned the smallest calves but they made up ground post-weaning and grew to produce heavier carcases than HxAxJ and HxAxK lines.

“The cow efficiency experiment so far shows that although the straightbred Angus cows were in better condition through good and bad periods, their weaning efficiency is less.”

By slaughter time, the HxAxF steers were the biggest but the HxA had the highest dressing out ratio at 51%, followed by the HxAxF at 50% and the two dairy crosses, HxAxK and HxAxJ, at 49%. 

Future research focus for cow efficiency herd:

Cow longevity: Looking at whether udders are more likely to break down in the dairy cross breeds by measuring calf colostrum levels. Dairy assessors have inspected the cows at four years and beef cow structure assessors will inspect them at five years of age. Angus cows tend to be 1 BCS better throughout life – but what are the impacts on longevity/ pregnancy rates, particularly in periods of feed shortage.

Breed effect on post-partum anoestrus – looking at whether there is an advantage in Jersey breed

Environmental impact over winter – running different breeds but same kg LW/ha on hill country examining pugging damage, using pasture cages to compare rates of pasture recovery and accumulation.

Effects of different feed delivery on growth rates – calves will be wintered on four treatments; set stocked on pasture, break-fed and back fenced on pasture, break-fed on oats, break-fed and back fenced on pasture with wet weather option for feeding baleage on feed pad in rain. Looking at growth, welfare (lying time, effect of mud) and pasture damage and repair.

Steer beef carcase comparison trial Breed crosses:

  • Hereford X Angus X Friesian
  • Hereford X Angus X Kiwicross
  • Hereford X Angus X Jersey
  • Hereford X Angus
  • Calves born 2010, heifers sold as weaners, 78 weaner steers kept through to 21-25 months, finished at 300kg CW, growth rate measured throughout life, carcase data captured after slaughter.
  • Traits measured:
  • pH
  • Warner-Bratzler shear force test (tenderness)
  • Expressed juice drip loss
  • Cooking weight loss
  • Muscle fibre make-up
  • Fat colour
  • Meat colour
  • Intramuscular marbling
  • Ultrasound scanning marbling score at 12, 18 and 24 months
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