Beef Cattle Browsing – November 2010

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

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.

Every year, a survey funded partially by the Beef Checkoff is made of retail meat cases. This year’s survey included 124 retail supermarkets and 9 club stores in 51 metropolitan markets in 31 states. Since 2007, store-branded beef products have increased from 31% to 51% but store brands for pork and poultry were lower. Most consumers (74%) stated they had no brand preference. Claims on labels included natural (32%), minimally processed (27%), hormone free (16%), antibiotic free (5%), and vegetarian fed (4%). Ground beef had nutrition labeling 81% of the time but that level was only 29% for other beef, considerably lower than for pork and poultry. Over 90% of stores had COOL labels, mostly on the package but some with a sign. Over 70% of other beef was labeled USA only, but 45% of ground beef was USA and other. Over 70% of ground beef is case-ready, but that level is only about 30% for other beef. The average weight of a package held steady at about 2 pounds. There has been some increase in the percentage of value/family packages. (2010 National Meat Case Study Executive Summary)

It has been well documented that consumption of colostrum within 24 hours after birth is important for good health. This is usually accomplished by normal nursing during this period. However, for various reasons, this may not occur. As backup, some producers maintain a supply of frozen colostrum. But supplies may sometimes be exhausted or colostrum might be contaminated with disease-causing organisms. Commercially-available bovine serum-based colostrum replacements and supplements are available. Are they effective?

A study was conducted using 287 dairy heifer calves from 8 dairies. Half received colostrum either in one feeding ≤ 2 hours after birth or in two feedings, one ≤2 hours after birth and the other between 2 and 12 hours after birth. The other half received a colostrum replacement ≤ 2 hours after birth and a colostrum supplement between 2 and 12 hours after birth. There was no difference (P<0.09) between the two groups in percentage of calves that had an adequate level of passive transfer of immunity. The authors concluded that sequential feeding of bovine serum-based colostrum replacements and colostrum supplements is an alternative to feeding colostrum for achieving immunity. (J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 237:949; University of Wisconsin)

A total of 966 black-hided beef calves born from 2002 to 2007 on the same Missouri commercial operation were fed in a southwest Iowa feedlot. Higher CAB acceptance rates were found for cattle that were heifers, above 50% Angus, older, heavier at slaughter, or fatter. Lower CAB acceptance was associated with higher on-feed weight/day of age or higher ADG. (J. Animal Sci. 88 E-Supple 2:1001; Certified Angus Beef LLC, Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity)

A system combining feeding of melengestrol acetate (MGA) and injection of prostaglandin has been widely used to synchronize estrus for AI. However, this requires feeding of controlled amounts for a period of time. Two studies were conducted using 99 cycling crossbred beef heifers to compare this procedure with one not requiring feeding. Heifers were determined to be cycling based on levels of serum progesterone. Half of the heifers were fed MGA from day 0 to day 13 and then injected with prostaglandin (Lutalyse ®) on day 32. The other half received progesterone through a controlled internal release device (CIDR) inserted from day 2 to day 16 and then injected with prostaglandin on day 32. Heifers were inseminated approximately 12 hours after onset of estrus.

In the first study, after prostaglandin administration there was no difference between treatments in estrous response or average interval to estrus or in conception to AI, AI pregnancy, or final pregnancy rate. In the second study, the CIDR-prostaglandin system resulted in greater (P<0.01) estrous response after prostaglandin and less (P<0.01) variance in interval to estrus. Mean interval to estrus, conception to AI, AI pregnancy, and final pregnancy rate did not differ (P<0.01). The authors concluded that the CIDR-prostaglandin system compared favorably with the MGA-prostaglandin system on estrous response, synchronization, and realized fertility. (J. Animal Sci. 88:3568; Univ. of Missouri)

In an effort to improve eating quality, beef from cows is sometimes “enhanced” by injecting various solutions. A study was conducted to compare enhanced cow strip loins, top sirloin butts, and ribeyes with the same cuts from cow beef that was not enhanced and from USDA Select grade beef. At 14 days post-slaughter, half of the cow cuts were injected with phosphate, salt, rosemary, potassium lactate, beef stock, ice, and water. At that time, all cuts were fabricated into 1-inch-thick steaks which were used for shear-force test, taste-panel test, and retail shelf-life test. Evaluations were then conducted at 14, 21, and 28 days after slaughter. In all results to follow, differences noted were statistically significant (P<0.05)

Compared to enhanced cow and Select, steaks from non-enhanced cows had higher shear-force (lower tenderness), lower taste-panel tenderness scores, and higher taste-panel scores for connective tissue. Enhanced steaks had higher scores for taste-panel juiciness than non-enhanced cow and Select steaks. Enhanced steaks had higher scores by taste-panel for salty flavor and soapy flavor. Non-enhanced had higher scores for grassy/cowy flavor and greater surface discoloration in the retail case. Select steaks were brighter in lean color. The authors concluded that enhanced cow steaks equaled Select steaks in tenderness and juiciness. However, they indicated that more study was needed to determine importance in enhanced steaks of flavor differences and lean color on consumer acceptability. (J. Anim. Sci. 88:3683; Oklahoma St. Univ.)

A 35-question survey was sent to 1888 cattle producers sampled from the Idaho Cattle Association member list, Red Angus Association of America member list, and Red Angus Association of America bull buyer list. Slightly less than half of those surveyed responded, of which 59% were commercial operators (average cow herd size = 223 head) and 41% were seedstock or combination commercial/seedstock (average cow herd size = 206 head).

Both groups indicated the most important factor in sire selection was calving ease/birth weight. Within the two groups, 49% of commercial and 44% of seedstock producers said they were “willing to accept” residual feed intake (RFI) to measure feed efficiency. From 40% to 50% of both groups considered feed efficiency to be important or very important. However, only 3.8% of commercial producers rated feed efficiency as the most important factor in sire selection, ranking above only milk production (2.0%) and hide color/visual appearance (1.5%). Among seedstock producers, only 4.8% rated feed efficiency as most important, above only milk production (2.9%) and price (1.2%). (J. Anim. Sci. 88:3749; Univ. of Idaho, Red Angus Assoc. of America)

Not who we would hope. In a recent survey on consumer trust in the food system, reported by the Center for Food Integrity at the Food System Summit, 15.9% of respondents named the Humane Society of the United States as the most credible source for information on care of farm animals. This was followed by farm-animal veterinarians (12.3%), USDA representatives (12.0%), and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, 11.5%). Operators of large livestock farms came in last (5.5%). (Texas Cattle Feeders Association newsletter; downloaded 10/20/10)

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