Beef Cattle Browsing- April 2012

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.

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




For one, it’s not new. Lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) is simply beef and not slime, pink or otherwise. And it’s not “additive” or “filler”. According to the American Meat Institute, LFTB is produced through a mechanical process similar to a centrifuge in which fat is spun away from beef trimmings, producing a product that is 95% lean or higher. LFTB is added to fed-beef carcass trim to produce ground beef of varying fat content. During the process, ammonium hydroxide is used as an antibacterial. Some reports have claimed this is harmful to your health. Ammonium hydroxide is found naturally in all plant and animal proteins. In a typical bacon cheeseburger, every component contains ammonium hydroxide, in the following amounts: bun = 440 ppm, bacon = 160 ppm, cheese = 813 ppm, condiments = 400 ppm, beef = 200 ppm. This nonsense about LFTB is hurting the beef industry, may drive good companies out of business that employ hundreds of people, could increase the need for more imports of lean trim, and will increase the cost of ground beef to consumers. (Partly summarized from information on, downloaded 4/2/12).

Research conducted from the late 60s to the 80s showed that heifers reached puberty and conceived only upon attaining a genetically predetermined size. It was generally recommended that heifers reach 60% to 65% of expected mature weight before breeding commenced. In order to begin breeding at 14 to 15 months of age, heifers must gain well to reach that goal, which can involve significant cost. In a review of research conducted since 2004, the authors concluded that feeding replacement heifers to traditional target weights increased cost without improving reproduction or calf production compared to developing to 50% to 57% of mature weight. It was indicated that the most effective system might involve relatively slow development after weaning followed by faster gain from 45 to 60 days before breeding. Also, there is some indication that genetic selection for calving at 2-years of age (rather than 3 years as was once common practice) may have reduced the percentage of mature weight needed to reach puberty. (Univ. of Nebraska, USDA-ARS Miles City, MT; J. Anim. Sci. 90:1166)

Emissions of methane from cattle, sheep, and goats have been implicated in global warming. An analysis was conducted to compare current estimates of methane emissions from domestic ruminants with that estimated from wild ruminants before European migration to the U. S. Current EPA estimates were used for domestic ruminants. Bison, elk, and deer (white-tailed and mule) were included in the estimate for wild ruminants. Other species were excluded because their range is mostly outside the U. S. or numbers were small. Based on scientific estimates, the number of bison before European settlement was set at 50 million, elk at 10 million, and deer at 43 million. The analysis showed that current methane emissions from domestic ruminants are only about 15% higher than pre-European-settlement estimates from wild ruminants. (Pennsylvania St. Univ.; J. Anim. Sci. 90:1371)

Boneless beef rounds from Select and upper Choice carcasses were separated into five major muscles from which one-inch thick steaks were cut. Steaks were refrigerated (not frozen) for 2, 4, 6, 10, 14, 21, or 28 days, grilled, and evaluated for tenderness by Warner-Bratzler Shear Force. Results showed that for both grades at least 21 days of aging was necessary in order to obtain 90% of the total aging effect on tenderness, except for one muscle from upper Choice which required only 14 days. The authors noted that product from both grades met the requirements for USDA categories of lean and extra lean and suggested that food service establishments and retail stores could use their findings to provide a more satisfactory product for consumers. (Colorado St. Univ.; J. Animal Sci. 90:996)

Over three years, British-cross and British-Continental-cross heifers were placed on a high-silage ration at average age of 276 days and average weight of 653 lb and fed for 112 days. ADG, gain:feed, and residual feed intake (RFI) were calculated for the entire 112-day feeding period and for the first and last 56 days. ADG was 2.07 lb for the first period and 1.98 lb for the second period. Gain:feed averaged significantly higher (more efficient) in the first period, but RFI did not differ. For both gain:feed and RFI, there were some changes in rank of individuals between periods. Fewer changes occurred for RFI. Rank in the second period was a better predictor of overall rank. The authors noted that RFI may be a better tool for selecting heifers which maintain efficiency as they mature. NOTE: Changes in rank occurred even though the ration was the same during both periods. It is possible that even more re-ranking might occur on different diets or when comparing rank during postweaning development with mature rank. (Univ. of Alberta, Lacombe Res. Ctr.; J. Animal Sci. 90:734)

The second Grassfed Beef Conference will be held this year on May 30-31on the campus of Texas A&M University sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension and the Department of Animal Science. Topics will include: overview of the U.S. beef industry; defining natural, grassfed, and organic; fundamentals of growing forage; forage-based nutrition; cattle types suited for grassfed beef production; preventative herd health; handling cattle to produce wholesome beef; carcass fabrication; consumer expectations; marketing a unique product; and economics and sustainability. Participants will partake of grassfed beef in A Taste of Texas Beef. For information and to register go to

Last year’s severe drought severely affected most of the state’s native warm season perennial grasses. Many areas have received much needed precipitation in the last few months. Dr. Rick Machen, Extension Livestock Specialist at the Texas AgriLife Center in Uvalde, wondered just how grasses might be expected to recover, so he asked Dr. Charles Taylor, Superintendent of the Texas AgriLife Research Station near Sonora. Dr. Taylor’s observations were:

  • warm season perennial bunch grasses will re-grow from stolons, underground buds, and   seeds even though the top may have been completely removed;
  • in most pastures, grass survived in some spots which will provide seed;
  • droughts have always occurred in Texas and grasses have always recovered;
  • recovery will depend on soil moisture and grazing management;
  • for optimal recovery, grasses will need two to three years of at least average rainfall   before or during the first half of the grazing season.

(From press release 3/8/12 by

Comments are closed.