Effects of growth potential and growth path on tenderness of beef longissimus muscle from bulls and steers

TitleEffects of growth potential and growth path on tenderness of beef longissimus muscle from bulls and steers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsPurchas, R.W., Burnham D.L., and Morris S T.
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Pagination3211 - 3221
Date Published2002
ISBN Number00218812 (ISSN)
KeywordsBull beef

The influence of growth potential or growth path on the tenderness of the longissimus muscle was investigated using 117 Angus and Angus-cross bulls and steers raised on pasture over two successive years. Growth rate for a period of 100 d from a weight of about 200 kg was used to identify the faster-growing two-thirds of cattle within the gender groups, half of which were grown fast to a slaughter weight of 530 kg at 16 to 18 mo of age (the Fast group), whereas the other half were restricted in growth (the Restricted group) so they attained a similar final weight as the slower-growing third (the Slow group) at about 26 mo of age. The Restricted group was included to determine whether the tougher meat expected from the Slow group relative to the Fast group (based on previous results) was due to the greater age of the Slow group or to their slower early growth rate. Beef from the Fast group was tenderer than that from both the Slow and Restricted groups based on sensory panels (P < 0.05) and objective measures (P < 0.05), indicating that the early growth-rate potential was less important than the differences in age or the patterns of growth for the Slow and Restricted groups. Improved tenderness for the Fast group was associated with more intramuscular fat (P < 0.05) and higher myofibrillar fragmentation indexes (P < 0.05). Patterns of tenderness differences between treatment groups were similar for bulls and steers, but beef from bulls was tougher (P < 0.001) than that from steers. The more tender beef from steers was associated with a slightly lower ultimate pH (P < 0.001), higher myofibrillar fragmentation indexes (P < 0.001), and more intramuscular fat (P < 0.001). Ultimate pH affected beef tenderness (P < 0.01), but adjustments to a constant pH did not decrease differences between treatment and gender groups. The higher growth rates (P < 0.01) and leaner carcasses (P < 0.01) of bulls compared with steers were consistent with other studies. Increases in age of 8 to 10 mo may be associated with less tender beef for cattle finished on pasture, and beef from bulls is likely to be less tender than that from steers. ©2002 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

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