Beef Cattle Browsing – December 2005

Beef Cattle Browsing

Editor: Dr. Stephen Hammack, Professor & Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Emeritus

December 2005

This newsletter is published by Texas AgriLife Extension – Animal Science. Media, feel free to use this information as needed and cite Texas A&M University Beef Cattle Browsing Newsletter, Dr. Steve Hammack.

Nebraska researchers used 24 taste panels consisting of 273 people in Denver and Chicago to compare strip loin steaks from domestic (US), Canadian (C), and Australian grass-fed (A) sources. Steaks were cut at 1″ thickness and matched for tenderness and marbling. However, aging (time from when steaks were vacuum packaged until they were frozen) varied, being 8 to 11 days for US, 24 days for C, and 67 to 73 days for A. Panels evaluated paired steaks to compare US and C or US and A. Compared to C, US scored statistically higher for flavor, tenderness, and overall acceptability, and tended to score higher for juiciness. US was favored by 44% of panelists, 29% by C, and 27% favored neither. Compared to A, US scored higher for all four characteristics. US was favored by 64% of panelists, 19% by A, and 16% favored neither. A silent sealed-bid auction was conducted among taste panelists for the steaks they evaluated. In every case, panelists paid significantly more (ranging from $1.37/lb to $2.23/lb) for the steak they preferred. Those preferring US paid a higher differential than those preferring C or, especially, A. Average price paid was $3.95/lb for US vs $3.57 for C and $3.68 for US vs $2.48 for A. U. S. consumers slightly favored U. S. beef over Canadian and favored U. S. over grass-fed Australian. (J. Animal Sci. 83:2863)

Illinois researchers studied 192 high-percentage Simmental steers that were weaned at three months and fed a high-corn ration. Individual feed intake was measured. Average age and live weight at harvest was 14 months and 1445 lb. Hot carcass weight (HCW), fat thickness, Yield Grade(YG), and marbling score(MS) averaged 897 lb, 0.44 inch, 2.85, and Small81, respectively. Carcass value was calculated using five-year-average values for HCW, YG, and MS. The most important factor affecting carcass value was HCW, which explained 51% of the difference in value; MS accounted for 10% and YG 8% of the difference. Considering only carcasses not discounted for weight (<900 lb), HCW was even more important, accounting for 72% of total value, with MS accounting for 8% and YG 3%. The picture changed somewhat for profit (carcass value minus total costs), as HCW accounted for 21%, MS 18%, and YG 12% of the difference. Throwing out carcasses discounted for weight, HCW accounted for 51%, MS 8%, and YG 4% of total profit. Increased carcass weight had the greatest effect on both value and profit, and was even more important when heavyweight carcass discounts were avoided. (J. Animal Sci. 83:2918)

Arkansas researchers compared over three years the following pastures: oats (O), cereal rye (CR), annual ryegrass (RG), or wheat (W) and combinations of CR/RG, W/CR, W/RG, and W/CR/RG. Pastures were grazed in fall-winter with steers averaging 425 lb initial weight and in the spring with different steers averaging 477 lb. Stocking rate for both periods was 1.5 hd/ac. ADG during fall-winter did not differ statistically among pastures. In spring, RG, CR/RG, W, and W/RG had higher ADG than O, CR, and W/CR/RG; W/CR was intermediate. Totalled over both grazing periods, gain/ac followed the same pattern as for spring grazing. Considering profit with owned cattle, CR/RG, W, and W/RG made more than CR, O, RG, W/CR, and W/CR/RG was intermediate. With contract grazing (charging $35/cwt gain) RG, CR/RG, W, and W/RG made more than W/CR and W/CR/RG, which made more than O and CR. In general, wheat and combinations with rye and ryegrass resulted in better animal performance and higher profit than oats or rye alone. (Prof. Anim. Sci. 21:465)


Nebraska and Illinois researchers collaborated to evaluate animal performance and carcass characteristics of cattle on a Monsanto hybrid corn variety (MON) genetically enhanced against corn rootworm. In one study, cattle grazed a field of MON and a field genetically similar to MON without the enhancement (CON). There was no statistical difference in ADG, in fact cattle on the MON field gained slightly faster. In two feeding studies, cattle were fed MON, CON, or reference hybrids (REF). In one study, MON ADG was significantly higher than CON, but feed/gain did not differ. MON feed/gain was significantly better than REF, but ADG did not differ. In the second study, there were no significant differences in performance. Also, there were no significant differences in either study in marbling score, ribeye area, or fat thickness. It appears that this genetically-enhanced corn does not negatively affect either animal performance or carcass characteristics. (J. Animal Sci. 83: 2826)

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