Linneus, Linn County
* September 23, 2014
* October 1-3, 2013
21262 Genoa Road
Linneus, MO 64653
Phone: 660 895-5121
FAX: 660 895=5122
March 21, 2000
PASTURE-BASED FINISHING OF CATTLE
AND EATING QUALITY OF BEEF
Professor Emeritus, Animal Science
University of Missouri, Columbia
Summary and Implications
In the grazing seasons of 1995 and 1996, crossbred steers which were
finished on pasture with no grain supplement or limited supplement were
lighter and had smaller carcasses than cattle finished in a feedlot.
Sensory evaluation of the cooked beef had no off flavors, textures or aroma
but the beef from pasture-based finished steers lacked tenderness and
juiciness. In 1997, pasture-finished steers were fed a full feed of
supplement during the final finishing period, which amounted to 880 to
2,200 lb/head of additional grain feeding. These crossbred steers, which
were finished to the same weight on pasture as steers finished in a
feedlot, had equal carcass quality scores, sensory scores (aroma and flavor
of cooked beef) and tenderness. The cattle finished with a short period of
full-feeding (about 25 lb grain/day) supplement on pasture, required 40 to
80 days longer to finish than those fed in the feedlot. This grain feeding
period would result in additional costs of finishing and that additional
cost would have to be covered by more economical costs of the use of
pasture compared to concentrate feeding. Steers finished with grain
supplementation on pasture gained comparable with feedlot cattle
(3.43 vs 3.2 lb/d) during the final finishing period. Cut steaks packaged
in airtight cryovac packages from animals in all treatments were aged in a
cooler for up to three weeks at 39oF. Aging for three weeks
greatly improved tenderness, especially of pasture-based finished beef,
without greatly affecting meat flavor or aroma. The results of these
trials support the concept that cattle can be finished on pasture to meet
the demands of the conventional beef trade or can be finished without grain
supplementation to produce smaller, leaner carcasses.
Judicious practice of Management-intensive Grazing (MiG) has the potential
of maintaining cool season pastures in a vegetative state for all the
growing season in the US Southern Cornbelt region. The use of stockpiled
pasture and stored forage such as baled silage make possible year-around
finishing of cattle in pasture paddocks. The development of such systems
makes possible the finishing of cattle without the concentration of wastes
in manure pits and lagoons.
In comparison to feedlot finishing of cattle, pasture-based finishing of
beef (PFB) could potentially lower the cost of production, eliminate the
concentration of waste (manure) and be perceived by the public as
environmentally friendly. Pasture-based finishing of beef is not well
received in the packing and meat trade, and every attempt is made to
discount the value of PFB carcasses. Most frequently cited problems are
yellow fat, dark cutting, lack of marbling, and lack of tenderness.
Recent reviews of the literature indicated that finishing cattle with
grazed forage has had mixed results (Seideman et al., 1985 and
Griebenow, 1997). Muir et al. (1998b) has recently reviewed the effect of
forage and grain-based feeding systems on beef quality. Fifteen
experiments were found in the literature which compared forage- and
grain-finished beef at the same carcass weight or degree of fatness. When
compared at similar carcass weights or the same degree of fatness, the type
of feeding system had no effect per se on tenderness, juiciness, lean meat
color, marbling, or pH. In eight out of twelve experiments where flavor
was assessed, panelists could not distinguish an effect of diet on flavor.
Effects on fat color were variable and, in six of the nine experiments
where fat color was measured, grain feeding failed to >improve= fat color.
It was concluded that there is little scientific justification for the
claim that grain feeding is necessary to produce high quality beef. They
concluded that beef of comparable quality can be obtained from cattle
finished on forage-based diets (i.e., pasture) provided that acceptable
carcass weights and degrees of finish can be achieved at a young age.
Larick et al., (1987) measured carcass characteristics and flavor of beef
from steers fed corn-cornsilage based rations for 0, 56, 84, and 112 d
after being backgrounded on tall fescue, smooth bromegrass-red clover or
orchardgrass-red clover pastures. Grassy flavor was detected in all
treatments but grassy flavor was minimal after 84 days on feed. Carcass
weight, carcass quality grade, tenderness and backfat thickness increased
with days on feed. Carcass weight was lighter for cattle from tall fescue
pasture compared to cattle from the other pasture treatment. Simonne et
al. (1996) reported no difference in sensory panel evaluation values for
steaks from pasture finished steers (annual ryegrass) compared to beef from
grain-based finished steers. However, they did find differences in ground
beef. In a trial with 156 cattle finished on rhizoma peanut
(Archis glabrata Benth.) (Bennett et al., 1995), lean color of
forage-finished steers was darker and fat of forage-finished steers had
creamier color compared to grain-finished steers but carcasses were not
discounted due to yellow fat color. Shear force values were higher
(6.8 vs 4.0 kg) for steers finished on peanut forage compared to
grain-finished steers. Off flavors were detected by trained sensory
panelists in 36% of forage-finished and 14% of concentrate-finished
carcasses, but all at barely detectable levels. This research indicates
that steers can be finished on rhizoma peanut-tropical grass pastures, but
with some reduction in quality grade relative to concentrate-finished
steers. These researchers concluded that fat color and off-flavor problems
are often associated with forage finishing but do not seem to be major
concerns when steers were finished on rhizoma peanut. Muir et al. (1998a)
conducted two serial slaughter experiments to compare the liveweight gain
and carcass quality of three-year-old Angus steers finished on
concentrate-based rations with steers finished on high quality spring
pasture in New Zealand. Experiment 1 used a feedlot ration of 70% maize
grain and 30% pasture and silage and Experiment 2 used barley instead of
maize. In both experiments, steers were adjusted to the concentrate ration
prior to being fed ad libitum for 84 d. Finishing regime led to a
significant difference in carcass weight in Experiment 1 (363 and 407 kg
for pasture and grain, respectively). There was no significant difference
in final carcass weight in Experiment 2. There was no significant effect
of feeding regime on marbling in either experiment. Although
grain-finishing significantly affected pH of the meat, resident New Zealand
panelists were unable to detect sensory differences between beef from the
two feeding regimes when comparisons were made at the same slaughter time.
In both experiments, steers fed the concentrate diet had brighter and
redder meat, but this may have been related to the reduced level of
exercise of the feedlot group rather than diet per se. Diet had no effect
on carcass fat color in Experiment 1 but steers fed the feedlot ration in
Experiment 2 had significantly whiter fat color. In these experiments the
effects of short-term grain finishing on meat quality were minor. It was
concluded that, provided a high growth rate and adequate level of finish
could be achieved, beef produced from pasture finishing was similar in
tenderness and taste to beef finished for up to 100 days in a feedlot.
Nutrient content of beef has been measured relative to fat content with the
expectation that leaner beef would contain less cholesterol. In beef
patties formulated to contain 0.5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30% fat, Hoelscher et
al, (1987), reported that cholesterol level was not related to initial fat
level in cooked beef patties. Browning et al. (1990) measured nutrient
content of muscles and muscle groups from eight typical (average yield
grade 2.99) and eight lean (average yield grade 1.73) steer carcasses.
Lean carcasses were higher in moisture and protein and lower in fat,
cholesterol and calories in comparison to typical carcasses. No
differences were found between carcasses of different yield grades for
moisture, protein, cholesterol, dry matter cholesterol, cooking lose or
shear force values. Kregel et al. (1986) reported no differences in
cholesterol content attributable to fat content of raw ground beef patties
and concluded that choosing low fat ground beef to lower cholesterol may
not be justified.
In our group at the University of Missouri we have placed a major emphasis
on the eating quality of the beef (meat) which is produced from
pasture-based systems. The following discussion will include six parts:
1) Biological types of cattle most useful in pasture-based systems
2) Characteristics of suitable pasture for pasture-based finishing
3) Observed animal performance from pasture forage 4) Carcass traits of
cattle produced from pasture-based systems 5) Meat flavor and eating
quality of beef from pasture-based systems 6) Affect of aging on meat
Producing for the market is paramount when deciding the type of cattle and
finishing system to use. Even in pasture-base finishing systems a variety
of sizes and carcass compositions can be produced. There are three general
types of markets; commercial or commodity, niche and\or branded, and home
freezer beef. The commercial beef trade prices beef based on USDA grade
and yield. Heavy penalties are placed on the pricing of carcasses which do
not grade choice and have yields scores of 1 and 2. Carcasses also usually
need to weigh 650 to 750 lb to be acceptable for the commercial beef trade.
Niche or branded markets will usually have specific requirements such as
high yields, leanness requirements, genetic requirements, age requirements
etc. Home freezer beef has the requirement to please the customer with
excellent eating quality. Many consumers today may be looking for extra
lean beef, guaranteed tenderness, organic produce beef, hormone free beef,
etc. With the variety of breeds of cattle available to us and the
flexibility of finishing systems available to the pasture-based finisher,
we should be able to meet a broad variety of market needs.
Biological Types of Cattle Best Suited to Pasture-based Finishing.
Biological type of cattle refers to growth and development characteristics
such as body size, rate of maturity, body composition and milk production.
The breeds of beef cattle can be arranged into functional groups based on
biological type (Hammack, 1998). Since biological type of beef animals
influences nutritional requirements of cattle and how nutrients are
partitioned into body tissues and functions (lean, fat milk, and
maintenance), the type of animal impacts the level of performance of cattle
and the economics of grazing systems (Morrow, 1998).
Cattle with moderate or intermediate biological types are best suited for
pasture-and forage-based growing and finishing systems. In general, the
English breeds or crossbreds with at least 50% English breed influence are
most useful for pasture-based finishing systems. This type of cattle will
probably possess early maturity which is an important trait for pasture
systems. Maturity can be gauged by when cattle reach puberty. Early
maturity is important because when cattle reach about 65% of mature size,
they begin to lay down intramuscular fat (fat inside the muscle tissue).
A body fat content of from 20 to 25% of empty body weight is required for
beef from cattle to have good eating quality. Since many pasture and
forage diets, even though of excellent quality, will contain less energy
density than high grain rations, early maturing cattle will begin finishing
at an early age and can be harvested at a young age.
Tenderness is probably the single most important attribute contributing to
good eating quality of beef. Tenderness of beef is highly related to age
at harvest of cattle and tenderness is also related to degree of finish,
ration fed and genetic makeup. Early maturing cattle have a better chance
of being harvested at a young age and producing tender meat. Proper frame
size of cattle is also an important characteristic for cattle best suited
to pasture finishing. Cattle having a frame score around 5 probably are
most suited to pasture finishing. A five-frame heifer will be about 47
inches at a year of age and will produce calves which will finish at 1,150
lb with about 0.4 inches of backfat. Mature size of cows to produce this
size of animal at harvest will have a mature body size of about 1,100 to
1,200 lb. If the market for the cattle prefers smaller sized cattle then
let the market dictate size.
We have conducted pasture-based finishing trials for beef cattle over the
past seven or eight years. The general overview of these trials was that
we used Management-intensive Grazing (MiG) methods, the cattle were English
X Continental crossbreds, and a major emphasis was placed on the carcass
quality and the eating quality of the finished beef. An overview of the
design and management of our research trials follows:
Pastures and grazing
The long-established grass-legume pastures were located at the Forage
Systems Research Center near Linneus, Missouri (Latitude 39o 51' 33'
= N, Longitude 93o 08' 54'= W, Elevation 247.9m). Measurement of
yield, nutrient content and plant species composition of these pastures for
2 yr preceding this trial indicated only small changes between years. Mean
stand counts (Evans and Love, 1957) for these pastures were 23% tall fescue
(Festuca arundinacea, Schreb.), 19% Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis, L.),
1.2% smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis), 2% other grass, 0.8% grassy weeds
(mostly crabgrass, Digitaris spp. and foxtail, Setaria spp.), 13% white
clover (Trifolium repens, L.), 8.6% red clover (Trifolium pratense, L.),
2.4% birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), <1% alfalfa (Medicago sativa),
10% broadleaf weeds, 10% bare ground and 1.2% dung piles (Martz, 1999b).
The range of nutrient content and digestibility of animal-selected, rumen
evacuated, samples from these pastures during the grazing seasons of the
previous two years were (as % of DM): NDF, 60 to 65%; ADF, 37 to 39%; CP,
17 to 19%; In situ DDM, 68 to 71%; estimated NEm, 2.20 to 3.15 Mcal/lb.
Experimental design and grazing management
There were four pasture-supplement treatments: 0.0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5% BW
daily concentrate supplement and a conventional feedlot treatment where the
steers were fed from a self-feeder in a mounded earthen based pen. Each of
two pastures (replicates per pasture treatment) was subdivided into six
1.3A paddocks. Each of these six paddocks was further subdivided, using
break fences, into either three, 0.44 or six, 0.22A paddocks. Thus there
were either 18 or 36 individual paddocks per pasture replication. Steers
were moved to a new paddock every 1 to 2 d, which resulted in either 17 or,
34 or 35 days of rest per paddock, depending on season and forage
Stocking rate was 1 steer per acre and average stocking rate was about 973
lb BW/A per treatment for the season. Stock density ranged over the
grazing season from 4,867 to 10,619 lb BW/A.
Cattle and Feeding
Animals used in this research were handled under an approved animal care
and use protocol. Eighty Hereford X Gelbvieh X Angus or > 3/4 Angus steers
were blocked across treatment groups and replicates by breed and initial BW
and were randomly allotted to the 0.0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 and feedlot
treatments. Steers were born in University herd in March-April, weaned in
October, grazed stockpile tall fescue (low endophyte) until January, then
wintered on mixed hay fed free choice plus 5 lb daily of 2/3 ground corn
(Zea maize) and 1/3 corn gluten feed until initiation of the grazing
season. Steers gained about 1.1 lb daily during the wintering phase.
Steers were weighed every 28 days of the grazing period and the supplement
offered was adjusted to meet the percent of BW desired.
Intake of pasture DM was estimated by calculating the difference between
pasture available at initiation of grazing minus residual pasture at
removal which was a measure of pasture disappearance (Frame, 1981)
(Martz et al., 1999). Pasture disappearance decreased as grain
supplementation increased among treatments.
The trials described above were conducted during the grazing seasons of
1995 and 1996. A similar trial was conducted in 1997 except for two
differences: 1) stocking rate was constant across all treatments with 8
steers/paddock and 2) all treatments were finished to a constant weight,
about 1200 lb.
Preferred Pastures for Pasture-based Finishing
Pasture for supporting gain of growing-finishing cattle must have a thick,
dense canopy of high energy forage. Gains from pasture forage alone in our
trials ranged from 1.3 to 1.9 lb/day. Daily gains from all treatments
except the feedlot appeared less than expected for the quality of the
rations being consumed by the steers. Gains of more than 3.0 lb/d have
been reported in the Southern US with ryegrass pasture. Poor growth and
finishing performance on supplemented pasture systems has been blamed on
negative associative affect of the diet ingredients (grain fermentation vs
forage digestion in the rumen). Negative associative affect of the diet is
undoubtedly a factor but our data support the concept that changes in the
utilization of energy and the substitution of grain supplement for less
than optimum pasture and grazing conditions are more likely reasons for
the, less than expected, performance.
Substitution coefficients (the amount of decrease in pasture intake for
each increment increase of supplement intake) have been reported to range
from 0.25 to 1.67 with a mean of 0.69 (Minson, 1990). Feeding supplement
in the current study resulted in substitution coefficients ranging from
0.5 (decrease of 0.5 lb pasture DM/added lb supplement fed) to slightly
over 1.0 (decrease of 1.0 lb pasture DM/added lb supplement fed). Steers
supplemented with higher levels of supplements, >1.0% of body weight, had
less substitution than steers with lower levels of supplement intake. It
has been reported (Minson, 1990) that substitution tends to decrease with
limited pasture voluntary intake which is in agreement with the results
from this trial. It may be that steers with the higher supplementation
levels also had higher relative stocking rates with an accompanying
decreased opportunity to achieve maximum pasture intake. Thus a situation
where substitution would be minimized.
Comparison of Gains of Steers on Pasture
All pastured groups gained slower than the feedlot groups. Steers in the
0.0, 0.5 and 1.0% treatment groups had lower ADG than the 1.5% treatment
groups. This lack of incremental increase in ADG to level of
supplementation was an unexpected response and the magnitude of change was
less than expected. If the pasture intake for the higher supplement
treatments was limited because of relatively higher stocking rates for
those treatments then total nutrient intake could have been inhibited and
resulted in lower relative ADG compared to the low supplementation levels.
A second factor which may have contributed to the lack of response added
increments of supplements was that the pastures contained significant
amounts of tall fescue and red clover and tall fescue contained as much as
90% endophyte infection. Allen et al. (1996) has reported lower weight
gains for finishing steers which consumed tall fescue-red clover pasture
compared to alfalfa-orchardgrass pasture. If the tall fescue suppressed
pasture dry matter intake, which may have resulted in supplement
substitution, then total energy intake of these steers would have been
relatively suppressed resulting in lower ADG.
Overall ending weight and average daily gain was different among
treatments. Steers in 1996 were lighter weight than those in 1995 due to a
lower beginning body weight and similar average daily gains. The original
plan was to take all groups to a similar final weight. Two reasons
prevented equal final weights. The pasture season ended before the pasture
groups reached final finish weight and our protocol dictated that we
evaluate the flavor and eating quality of the beef from cattle that had
been harvested directly from pasture (Martz et al., 1997). Eating quality
of the beef from all treatments was acceptable and no off flavors were
observed (Martz et al., 1997). Previous reports (Davies, 1977; Turner and
Raleigh, 1977) indicate that cattle can be finished on pasture to
equivalent final BW weights with 40 to 60 additional finishing days on high
quality pasture either with pasture alone or with full feeding of grain on
pasture. Had a longer feeding period been possible, a short finishing
period with a full feed of grain either on pasture or in a feedlot to
attain equal finish weights would have been an alternative.
Since the pasture finished steers had lower ending weights, their carcass
weights were less, but carcass weight and dressing percentage increased
incrementally with increasing supplementation. Steers supplemented with
1.5% body weight of supplement were more similar to feedlot finished steers
in terms of finish than other groups. The target carcass characteristics
were 0.3 to 0.4 in backfat with a yield score of 2.0. This goal was met
with the feedlot group but not for all the pasture finished groups.
In 1997, it is estimated that the steers consumed from 0.5 to 1.0% BW as
pasture DM during the final finishing period while they were consuming a
full feed of supplement on pasture. The final harvest of steers was
December 18, which was the 0 treatment group. The finding in this study
that steers on pasture required more days, 40 to 88, to reach finish weight
than the feedlot steers is similar to the findings of Davies, 1977, who
reported that it took 36 d longer to finish cattle on irrigated pastures
compared to cattle finished in a feedlot on a barley-based diet. This
trial was conducted in the same pastures as a previous two-year trial
(Martz et al., 1999a) with a similar design except for two changes. All
treatments had the same stocking rates (1 steers/A) in this trial compared
to a variable stocking rate across treatments in the previous trail and all
steers were fed to equal finish weights in this trial compared to steers
being fed to different finish weights in the previous trial. Mean ADG
across all treatments was similar among years 1.96 lb/d for 1997 compared
to 1.87 and 1.96 lb/d for 1995 and 1996, respectively. These similarities
indicate that the nutrient content and intake of pasture was also similar
across years and is consistent with the finding that the nutrient content
of the pasture was similar between 1995 and 1996 (Martz et al, 1999b). The
increased gain with supplementation is similar to the reports of Clanton,
1987; Perry et al., 1972; and Martz et al., 1999a.
Previous experience with steers from this herd had indicated that finished
steers needed to weigh about 1200 lb and at that weight would have from
0.3 to 0.4 inches of backfat and 75% or more of the animals would grade
choice. In 1997 all groups of steers were near 1,200 lb BW at slaughter.
Steers appeared to show less response to grain supplementation, treatment
means were more similar, during the early periods of the grazing season.
This lower response in the early grazing season was also observed on the
same pastures in the two previous grazing seasons, 1995 and 1996. The
reason for this lower response to supplemental feeding may have been due
to endophyte infection (90%) of the tall fescue in the pasture and or
differences in the substitution of supplement for pasture DM intake across
treatments. Because of the uniform pasture stocking rate across treatment,
pastures tended to grow faster than they were consumed, especially early in
the pasture season, and quality of the pasture appeared to decrease during
in the middle of the grazing season. It is thought that less substitution
of supplement for pasture DM takes place for lower quality pastures
compared to higher quality pasture.
Carcass Characteristics of Cattle From Pasture-based Finishing
Slaughter and Carcass Evaluation
In 1995 and 1996, steers were slaughtered in a small commercial plant about
200 miles from the Forage Systems Research Center. Cattle were always
loaded onto trucks about 1400 hr, Thursday, slaughtered on Friday, then
carcasses were evaluated Monday. The beef carcasses were weighed as they
came off the kill-floor and were evaluated by a USDA certified meat grader
for backfat thickness, marbling, ribeye area, fat color, quality grade and
In 1997, steers were slaughtered in the University Abattoir. The same
pre- and post-slaughter routine was followed with each group. Cattle were
removed from pasture, penned, and weighed full in the evening at the Forage
Systems Research Center. Steers were killed between 0800 and 1200 hr in the
university abattoir. Carcasses were evaluated on the third day following
slaughter by a USDA-certified grader.
1995-96 carcass results
Quality grade and marbling score were different among treatments with the
pasture finished steers having the lowest grades and scores. A majority of
the steers in the 0.0 and 0.5% treatment groups graded standard and a
majority of the steers in the 1.5% and feedlot groups graded choice. These
findings indicate and are supported by the report of Perry et al., 1972,
and of Turner and Raleigh, 1977, that with higher feeding levels of grain
supplement and /or longer finishing periods, cattle finished on
pasture-based systems could be taken to heavier finish weights and would be
more comparable to feedlot finished cattle.
Color of the fat has been criticized in pasture finished cattle for having
too much yellow pigmentation (Seideman et al., 1985). Steer carcasses in
this trial did differ in color among treatments. However, on a scale of 1
to 5 with 1 being light with little pigmentation, all carcasses were
evaluated 2 or less and were acceptable to the market. This finding is in
agreement to that of (Bidner et al., 1985).
In 1997 the target of 0.3 to 0.4 inches of backfat was achieved except for
the feedlot treatment which had 0.4+ inches backfat. This finding
indicated that the pasture finished steers were leaner than the feedlot
finished cattle. All treatment means for carcass quality were similar.
Seventy to 80% of carcasses in all treatment groups graded choice and all
others were select which is in contrast to steers finished solely on
pasture in 1995-96, where steers finished on pasture were lighter and
graded lower in quality than feedlot finished steers. None of the beef
carcasses in this trial were down graded for dark cutting, yellow fat or
lacking marbling and finish. All carcass weights were near 700 lb.
Dressing percentage of pastured groups were equal to the feedlot steers
which is also in contrast with cattle finished on pasture to lighter
weights than feedlot cattle in 1995-96, where steers finished on pasture
had lower dressing percentages.
Flavor and Eating Quality of Beef from Pasture-based Finishing of Cattle
Beef sampling and sensory analysis
A boneless, strip loin (longissmus muscle) was removed from six randomly
selected carcasses in each treatment group on the third day following
slaughter. Each group had equivalent breed backgrounds. Loins were
transported to the University Meats Laboratory, frozen, cut into 0.75-inch
steaks and individually packaged in vacuum sealed cryovac containers.
Three steaks, one from each third of the strip loin, were submitted to the
Sensory Laboratory for Descriptive Sensory Analysis and for Acceptance
Testing (consumer evaluation; Lawless and Heymann, 1998).
Descriptive Analysis. A 10-member panel participated in score sheet
development and training sessions for evaluating the beef steaks. The
training samples included samples of steaks from a USDA choice grain-fed
carcass from the feedlot group. The score sheet consisted of 16.4 unit
unstructured line scales (0 = not, 16.4 = very) for 25 attributes. Each
panelist received two pieces of steak from all steaks. One piece of steak
was used when evaluating the aroma and flavor attributes, and the other
piece was used when evaluating all other attributes. Steaks were evaluated
monadically in individual sensory booths under red lights. A total of 10
sessions were conducted on separate days to complete the descriptive
analyses study. Steaks from each steer were randomly assigned to the 10
sessions. Three, 1.2 cm cores from each cooked steak were used for
standard Warner-Bratzler shear force measurement. Shear values were
determined using an Instron, Universal Testing Machine (Model 1132) with a
100 kg load cell which had been interfaced with a computer to perform and
record all measurements. The 1.2 cm cores were sheared on an Instron
Warner-Bratzler shear attachment compression module. The cores were placed
on the base of a blade guide and a triangle shaped blade was forced down
through the sample at 25.4 cm per minute. A full-scale load setting of 0
to 10 kg was used with a range setting of 1.0.
Acceptance Testing. Eighty-eight panelists participated in the consumer
evaluation. Five sessions were conducted with 15 to 20 panelists
participating per session. The consumer panelists evaluated the steaks in
conditions similar to the Descriptive panelists, with the exception of
evaluating the samples under white light instead of red lights. Each
panelist indicated their degree of liking, using the 9-point hedonic scale
(with categories from 9 = like extremely to 1 = dislike extremely) for 6
samples of steak. Results from the Descriptive Analysis indicated those
attributes which were significantly different among treatments. Based on
this information, 6 steak codes were selected for the consumer evaluation
as follows: Two steak codes from each replicate of each treatment
(0, 1.5, and feedlot), where the data for these samples were near the
appropriate treatment mean for most of the significant attributes. Thus,
the two steaks selected represented the attributes of the treatment mean
to be evaluated.
Cookery and Serving. Frozen beef steaks were defrosted in a refrigerator
at 4oC for 24 hours prior to each test session. Steaks were cooked
and sampled under controlled conditions in the Sensory Laboratory kitchen.
Steaks were broiled to 33.8oC then turned and broiled to a final
temperature of 67.7oC. Edges of each beef steak were removed and
the remaining portion was cut into 1.27 cm cubes using an electric knife
and a plexiglass template. Toothpicks were inserted into the steak cubes
and two adjacent pieces were placed into each three-digit randomly coded
and heated 30 ml beaker. The beakers had been preheated in sandbaths to
76.7oC to aid in maintaining the sample temperature. Samples were
then served to the panelists. The entire serving procedure was controlled
so that it took less than 5 minutes.
Cooked beef was evaluated for 1) aroma: beefy/meaty, blood/raw meat,
beef fat, char-grill/smokey, vegetative, earthy, nutty, or off-aroma;
2) flavor: beefy/meaty, blood/raw meat, beef fat, char-grill/smokey,
vegetative, earthy, nutty, or off-flavor; 3) texture: tender
(initial bite), juicy (initial bite), tender (average) juicy (average),
stringy, mealy, gristle, aftertaste, and 4) Warner-Bratzler shear force.
Results indicated that the PFB tended to lack tenderness and juiciness. No
off-flavors were observed. The higher percentage grain supplemented
treatment (1.5%) tended to be more similar to the feedlot treatment than
the non-supplemented treatment.
Five consumer acceptance sessions were held and analysis of the data
(not shown in this report) indicated that the steaks were rated
consistently across the 5 consumer evaluation sessions. Although there
were significant difference among the treatments in the consumer acceptance
study, all of the steaks were rated at or above Aneither like nor dislike@
on the 9-point hedonic scale; thus on average, none of the steaks were
disliked. These findings are in agreement with Reagan et al. (1995) who
reported that US customers who ate beef found little difference in eating
quality, among cuts of beef from the range of quality grades from high
choice to low select.
Results of consumer acceptance evaluations indicated that beef can be
produced from pasture-based finishing systems with a minimum grain
supplement level (about 2,000 lb total) which is similar in flavor and
eating characteristics to beef produced from feedlots.
In 1997, the aroma, flavor and tenderness data in indicated that strip loin
beef from steers finished to equivalent weights with supplementation on
pasture were equal or superior in all aspects measured, to steers finished
in the feedlot. Past variability of results of finishing cattle on pasture
both in growing-finishing performance, carcass quality and eating quality
of the resulting beef (Griebenow et al., 1997, Seideman et al., 1985;
Martz et al., 1997) may have been due to availability and quality of the
pasture, species of plants in the pasture, lack of finish of cattle and
animal stress. Results from this study indicate that cattle finished to
similar weights on intensively managed, cool-season introduced forages can
be equal to feedlot finished cattle in terms of carcass quality and eating
characteristics of the resulting meat.
Affect of Aging Beef from Pasture-based Finishing of Cattle
Strip steaks from the beef carcasses were cut and sealed in cryovac
packages. Steaks were aged for 0, 1, and 3 weeks in coolers at 39
oF. Increased aging time dramatically increased perceived average
tenderness and decreased stringiness in meat from animals fed no grain.
Cooked strip steaks that were aged for 3 weeks also had lower
Warner-Bratzler shear force measures than nonaged steaks. Aging steaks 3
weeks resulted in the pasture-based finished steaks having equal tenderness
compared to steaks from the feedlot finished steers. In the 1997 trial,
steaks from all treatments had equal tenderness and aging enhanced the
tenderness of all treatments. Aging time did not significantly affect
vegetative aroma, earthy aroma, beefy aroma and flavor, and mouth coating.
Allen, V. G., J. P. Fontenot, R. F. Kelly, and D. R. Notter. 1996. Forage
systems for beef production from conception to slaughter: III. Finishing
Systems. J. Anim. Sci. 74:625-638.
Bennet L. L., A. C. Hammond, M. J. Williams, W. E. Kunkle, D. D. Johnson,
R. L. Preston, and M. F. Miller, 1995. Performance, carcass yield, and
carcass quality characteristics of steers finished on rhizoma peanut
(Araachis glabrata)-tropical grass pasture or concentrate. Jour. Anim. Sci.
Bidner, T. D., R. E. Montgomery, C. P. Bagley, and K. W. McMillin. 1985.
Influence of electrical stimulation, blade tenderization and postmortem
vacuum aging upon the acceptability of beef finished on forage or grain.
J. Anim. Sci. 61:584-589.
Browning, M. A., D. L. Huffman, W. R. Egbert and S. B. Jungst. 1990.
Physical and compositional characteristics of beef carcasses selected for
leanness. Jour. Food Sci. 55:9-14.
Clanton, D. C. 1977. Finishing cattle on pasture and other forages:
irrigated pasture. J. Anim. Sci 44:908-912.
Davies, H. L. 1977. Continued studies on the effect of grain or pasture
on the carcass composition and meat quality of Fresian steers.
Aust. J. Agric. Res. 28:755-761.
Gerrish, J. R., F. A. Martz and V. G. Tate. 1996. Sward characteristics of
beef finishing pastures. In: M. J. Williams (Ed.) Proc. Amer. Forage
Grassl. Council, Vol 5, p. 130-134. AFGC, Georgetown, TX.
Griebenow, R. L., F. A. Martz, and R. E. Morrow. 1997. Forage-based beef
finishing systems: A review. J. Prod. Agric. 10:84-91.
Hammack, S. P., 1998. Choosing Breeds for Commercial Beef Production.
Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. University of Arkansas,
Hancock, D. L., J. E. Williams, H. B. Hedrick, E. E. Beaver, D. K. Larrick,
M. R. Ellersieck, G. B. Garner, R. E. Morrow, J. A. Paterson and J. R.
Gerrish. 1987. Performance body composition and carcass characteristics
of finishing steers as influenced by previous forage systems.
J. Anim. Sci. 65:1381-1391.
Hoelscher, L. M., J. W. Savell, J. M. Harris, H. R. Cross, and K. S. Rhee.
1987. Effect of initial fat level and cooking method cholesterol content
and caloric value of ground beef patties. Jor. Food Sci. 52:883-885.
Kregel, K. K., K. J. Prusa and K. V. Hughes. 1986. Cholesterol content
and sensory analysis of ground beef as influenced by fat level heating and
storage. Jour. Food Sci. 51:1162-1165.
Larick, D. K., H. B. Hedrick, M. E. Bailey, J. E. Williams, D. L. Hancock,
G. B. Garner, and R. E. Morrow. 1987. Flavor constituents of beef as
influenced by forage- and grain-feeding. Jour. Food Sci. 52:245-251.
Lawless H. T., Heymann H. 1998. Sensory evaluation of food-principles and
practices. Chapt. 10, 11, 13. Chapman and Hall-International Thompson
Publishing, 115 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10003.
Martz, F. A., J. R. Gerrish, V. Tate and K. Moore. 1996. Performance of
steers finished on pasture and four levels of grain supplementation.
In: M. J. Williams (Ed.) Proc. Amer. Forage Grassl. Council, Vol 5,
p. 125-129. AFGC, Georgetown, TX.
Martz, F. A., H. Heymann, V. Tate, A. Clarke, and J. Gerrish. 1997.
Quality of beef from pasture finished cattle. IN: M. J. Williams (ed.)
Proc. Amer. Forage Grassl. Council, 6:218-222.
Martz, F. A., J. R. Gerrish, V. Tate and K. Moore. 1999a. Performance of
beef steers finished on pasture with management-intensive grazing with and
without grain supplement. In: M. Phillips (Ed.) Proc. Amer. Forage Grassl.
Council, Vol 8, p. 125-129. AFGC, Georgetown, TX.
Martz, F. A., J. R. Gerrish, R. L. Belyea and V. Tate. 1999b. Nutrient
content, yield and species composition of intensively managed cool season
pasture with animal selected sampling. J. Dairy Sci. 82:1538-1544.
Minson, D. J. 1990. Forage in Ruminant Nutrition. Academic Press, Inc.
Harcourt Brace Javanovich, San Diego, California 92101.
Morrow, R.E., 1998. Matching livestock and forage resources in controlled
grazing. Livestock Tech. Note. ATTRA, University of Arkansas, P. O. Box
3657, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 72702.
Muir, P. D., J. M. Deaker, and M. D. Bown. 1998. Effects of forage- and
grain-based feeding systems on beef quality: A review. New Zealand Jour.
Of Agri. Res. 41:623-635.
Muir, P. D., N. B. Smith, G. J. Wallace, G. J. Cruickshank, and D.R. Smith.
1998. The effect of short-term grain feeding on liveweight gain and beef
quality. New Zealand Jour. of Agri. Res. 41:517-526.
Perry, T. W., D. A. Huber, G. O. Mott, C. L. Rhyderd, and R. W. Taylor.
1972. Effect of level of pasture supplementation on pasture drylot and
total performance of beef cattle. II. Spring plus summer pasture.
J. Anim. Sci. 34:647.
Reagan, J. O., 1995. Beef customer satisfaction- a report to the industry.
National Livestock and Meat Board, 444 N. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, Illinois, 60611.
Seideman, S. C., H. R. Cross, T. D. Bidner, J. D. Ford, J. O. Reagan, and
R. L. West. 1985. Marketability of beef produced under forage-grain
management systems. Southern Coop. Ser. Bull. 29.
Simonne, A. H., B. R. Green, D. I. Bransby. 1996. Consumer acceptability
and beta-carotene content of beef as related to finishing diets.
Jour. Food Sci. 61:1254ff.
Turner H. A. And R. J. Raleigh. 1977. Production of slaughter steers
from forages in the arid west. J. Anim. Sci. 44:901-907.
The Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station is the research arm of the
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural
at the University of Missouri-Columbia
Site maintained by people at AgEBB