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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #207608

Title: Consumer acceptance and carcass quality

item Neel, James - Jim
item Duckett, Susan
item Sonon, Roberto
item Clapham, William

Submitted to: National Grass-Fed Beef Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2007
Publication Date: 2/28/2007
Citation: Neel, J.P., Duckett, S.K., Sonon, R.N., Clapham, W.M. 2007. Consumer acceptance and carcass quality. In: Proceedings of 1st National Grass-Fed Beef Conference, February 28-March 2, 2007, Penn State University, Grantville, Pennsylvania. 2007 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In commodity production systems, beef quality is designated based on the USDA grading criteria which take into account carcass marbling, maturity and yield. Producers are rewarded economically for beef quality grade (QG) of Choice versus Select although the price difference (spread) varies seasonally. Substantial research has been conducted comparing forage- to grain-finished beef but most of this research was based on feeding forage-finished animals to equal weight or compositional endpoints in an attempt to improve QG. This method of comparison results in forage-finished cattle being older due to the lower energy density of their diets and environmental factors. Animal age is associated with increased toughness both when measured as shear force and sensory tenderness. Knowledge regarding the impact of animal performance during critical phases of production and finishing system (with equal time endpoints) on end product would have significant impact on planning capabilities and economic returns. A multi-year, multi-institution research effort within the "Pasture-Based Beef Systems for Appalachia" research project was directed to study the impact of winter stocker growth rate on subsequent animal performance during finishing, and beef quality in forage- and feedlot-finished beef. The research consortium involves over 30 scientists and the following institutions: USDA-ARS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, West Virginia University, Clemson University and the University of Georgia. Winter diets were formulated to achieve average daily gains (ADG) of 0.5(Low), 1.0 (Medium) or 1.5 (High) lb per day. Upon completion of the winter stocker period, animals were randomly assigned to either pasture or feedlot/concentrate finishing treatments. Winter stocker growth rate did not influence beef quality or composition. Feedlot-finishing resulted in higher carcass quality grade, but Warner-Bratzler and trained sensory panel evaluation revealed no difference in tenderness. Based on photometric measurements, forage-finished beef was darker, less red and contained less yellow pigmentation than beef from feedlot-finished cattle. Subcutaneous fat was darker and more yellow for forage-finished product, agreeing with previously reported findings for forage finished beef. However, subjective scoring during carcass data collection resulted in no detectable difference in fat color between forage- and feedlot-finished. In general, forage- and feedlot finished beef were very comparable and highly desirable.