Agroscope, Institute for Livestock Sciences ILS, 1725 Posieux, Switzerland

Ingestion of whey on alpine pastures by beef cattle and quality of the meat

Whey is present in large quantities in the alpine-cheese production zones, and represents a source of energy that should be utilised. The quality of the meat from 96 beef cattle which either consumed or did not consume this by-product was compared in two trials carried out 2012 and 2013. The animals, with an average live weight of 480 kg, consisted half of heifers and half of steers, belonged to different breeds or crosses of beef breeds, and were fattened for 95 days in mid-mountain areas. The animals were allocated to one of three experimental treatments: grazing (G), or grazing with an energy supplement in the form of barley (B) or warm, full-fat whey (W) distributed in a limited quantity (2012) or ad libitum (2013). Distributed at an average rate of 25 or 33 litres per day and animal, whey did not affect the sensorial and physicochemical properties of the meat. The fatty-acid profile of interest was only very slightly modified by the feeding treatment. Breed had a much more pronounced impact on the full set of variables. Meat from animals that consumed whey was 100% identifiable via a multivariate analysis including certain fatty acids. Key words: beef cattle, meat quality, whey,

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