Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station ALP, rte de la Tioleyre 4, 1725 Posieux

Finishing duration of steers after the summer grazing season and meat quality

The effects of a finishing strategy on meat quality was studied in 48 Limousin x Red Holstein crossbred steers that had spent the grazing season on an extensively exploited mountain pasture (with a low stocking rate). The duration of the finishing period and the possibility to exploit the compensatory growth potential were of particular interest. The animals were slaughtered either at the end of the grazing season or after a finishing period of four, eight or twelve weeks kept in a barn on straw. The ration consisted of ad libitum fed silage which contained 50% grass and 50% maize on a dry matter basis and of a concentrate feed. During the finishing period daily weight gain was more than twice as high as during the grazing season. Finishing influenced the number as well as the size and the composition of the longissimus dorsi muscle fibres. Drip loss increased with increasing length of the finishing period. The amount of collagen strongly decreased, whereas intramuscular fat increased from 1.4 to 2.3 % after 12 weeks, but shear force, myofibrillar fragmentation index and tenderness remained unchanged. The finishing period after the grazing season thus did not improve meat quality.

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