Measuring Carcass Quality of Crossbred Steers

Linda Benedict, Blouin, David C., Bidner, Thomas D., Wyatt, Wayne E.  |  9/6/2014 1:05:43 AM

Wayne E. Wyatt, David C. Blouin and Thomas D. Bidner

Steers with higher levels of Brahman breeding are often negatively perceived in terms of meat tenderness. Bonsmara is a South African breed created through crossbreeding of Afrikaner, Hereford and Shorthorn cattle. It is tropically adapted and believed to yield more tender cuts than Brahman-influenced cattle. The objective of this research was to evaluate steer calves for tenderness and carcass quality traits in breed combinations using tropically nonadapted Angus and tropically adapted Brangus cows with Braford (tropically adapted), Hereford (nonadapted) and Bonsmara (tropically adapted) sires.

Brangus dams were crossed with Braford, Hereford and Bonsmara sires, and Angus dams were crossed with Hereford and Bonsmara sires. Steers in the study totaled 63 Braford-Brangus (38 percent Brahman), 38 Hereford-Brangus (19 percent Brahman), 53 Bonsmara-Brangus (19 percent Brahman and 31 percent Afrikaner), 38 Hereford-Angus (no tropical adaptation) and 45 Bonsmara-Angus (31 percent Afrikaner).

Because backfat thickness varied among the breed types, the remaining traits were statistically adjusted to reflect a common backfat thickness.

The Hereford-Brangus steers tended to have heavier carcasses than their Braford-Brangus and Bonsmara-Brangus counterparts. Collectively, steers out of Brangus dams had heavier carcass weights than steers out of Angus dams.

The ribeye muscle area per 100 pounds of carcass weight provides a measure of muscling and varied among breed types. Steers out of Angus dams had collectively greater muscling than steers out of Brangus dams.

Breed types tended to vary in the percentage of carcasses grading USDA Choice or better, with the highest percentage in Hereford- Angus steers and the lowest percentage in Bonsmara-Brangus steers. Percentage of carcasses grading USDA Choice or better, however, was less dependent on the sire breed than on the cow breed. Consequently, steers out of Angus cows had a greater percentage of carcasses grading USDA Choice or better than those out of Brangus cows.

For the most part, USDA yield grades were similar among crossbreed types.

Not only were these steer carcasses uniformly tender across all crossbreed types, but they were exceptionally tender. A recent USDA certification procedure would have warranted a guaranteed “very tender” labeling on each of the crossbreed types in this study.

Data from this research indicate that the presence of Brahman breeding in the Brangus dams positively affected weight traits, whereas absence of Brahman breeding in the Angus dams positively affected carcass grade. Neither sire-breed nor dam-breed differences affected meat tenderness. In terms of sire-breed contributions, neither the extent nor source of tropical adaptation provided a distinct overall advantage in this study.

Acknowledgments: George Chapman of Bonsmara Natural Beef Company for providing funding for the project; Charles Looney of Ovagenix; the staff of the American Hereford Association; and the staff of the United Braford Breeders.

Wayne E. Wyatt is a professor at the Iberia Research Station, Jeanerette, La.; David C. Blouin is a professor in the Department of Experimental Statistics; Thomas D. Bidner is a professor emeritus in the School of Animal Sciences.

This article was published in the summer 2014 issue of Louisiana Agriculture Magazine.

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