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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Grassland is an extensive natural resource in Appalachia. Basing beef production on pasture, from conception to slaughter, will add value to small farm production in the Appalachian area. Three cooperating institutions (West Virginia University, Virginia Tech, and Clemson University) and the ARS Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center are together providing production information by cooperatively studying soil, plant, animal and economics. Each institution is responsible for research on particular phases of the production stream. The objective of this agreement is to provide information on meat quality attributes for the pasture-based beef production system. The Agreement has three specific goals: 1) Produce a 12-month supply of pasture-based beef by expanding the harvest window with retention of acceptable meat quality, 2) Develop criteria for pasture raised beef that define “the window of acceptability”, and 3) Develop tools for pasture-based beef producers to assess and manage risk.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Researchers in several disciplines will work together and will include soil scientists, agronomists, ruminant nutritionists, animal physiologist, agricultural economist and extension specialists. Experiments will be conducted in the field on stocker and heifer development systems as well as on the soil fertility, pasture production and management components. Residual feed intake and forage-use efficiency will be estimated from data under controlled conditions. Continuous-flow fermentation will be utilized to compare digestive kinetics and fermentation with products and byproducts of forages consumed during finishing. Data from experiments will be used to estimate and calibrate risk-profitability decision tools for producers. Potential revenues will be assessed under various live cattle market conditions to predict scenarios that favor marketing harvested grass-fed beef. Data will be obtained in grocery stores to determine consumers’ response to visual and taste characteristics, and their willingness to buy the product.

3. Progress Report
Forty eight steers of two frame scores (Medium or Large) were slaughtered at three time endpoints (July, September, December) to examine the effects of animal age and frame score on carcass quality, rib composition, nutrient composition, palatability, and lipid oxidation. Hot carcass weight, ribeye size, and fat thickness increased with slaughter date. Marbling score and quality grade increased from first to second slaughter date. Percentage bone in 9-10-11 rib section decreased by slaughter time and did not differ between frame scores. Percentage fat in 9-10-11th rib section increased by slaughter date (2.4 to 10.3%) and was greater for Medium framed steers. Warner-Bratzler shear force at d 14 of postmortem aging increased at each slaughter time indicating that animal age at slaughter resulted in greater toughness. Extended postmortem aging time (28 d) reduced Warner-Bratzler shear force in the 3rd slaughter group resulting in comparable levels to 2nd slaughter group. Frame score did not alter Warner-Bratzler shear force values. Lipid oxidation and objective color were measured in steaks during simulated retail display. TBARS values, a measure of lipid oxidation, increased over time and were significantly related to fatty acid composition and antioxidant content of beef steaks from each animal. The ADODR communicates with the project collaborators on a regular basis by telephone, internet and in person. Two scientists from each of the collaborating institutions serve as members of the project¹s executive committee that develops project policy and plans execution as well as insuring accountability to the project plan. Quarterly meetings of the executive committee are held via conference call. Project meetings for all participants are held twice a year. The ADODR interacts frequently in person at the USDA-ARS location in Beaver, WV and at the collaborators¹ sites. The ADODR provides guidance and oversight to administer the specific cooperative agreement and insuring project accountability.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 08/21/2017
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