Effects of forage level in feedlot finishing diets on carcass characteristics and palatability of Jersey beef

E. J. Arnett, F. L. Fluharty, S. C. Loerch, H. N. Zerby, R. A. Zinn, P. S. Kuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jersey cattle are known for producing carcasses with a greater amount of marbling, but they require more days on feed to achieve acceptable market weights compared with other breeds. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary forage (12 vs. 24% sudangrass:alfalfa hay, DM basis) in steam-flaked, corn-based finishing diets on carcass characteristics, beef palatability, and retail color stability of steaks from Jersey beef compared with conventionally fed commodity beef strip loins (COM) of identified quality (Choice-and Select+). Jersey steers (n = 77) were blocked by BW and randomly assigned to 1 of the following treatments for a 383-d trial period: Jersey low 12% (JL; n = 38) or Jersey high 24% (JH; n = 39) forage (DM basis). A comparison group was selected from conventionally fed cattle on the same day of slaughter as the Jersey treatments, and strip loins from USDA Select+ (COM; n = 20) and Choice-(COM; n = 20) were removed for data analysis. Seventy-two hours postmortem, strip loins were removed, vacuumpackaged, and aged at 3°C for 18 d postmortem. After the aging period, steaks from the LM were sliced, vacuum-packaged, and frozen (-20°C) until analyzed. Jersey steaks had reduced (P < 0.05) Warner-Bratzler shear force values compared with COM steaks. Trained sensory panelists rated JL greater (P < 0.05) for initial and sustained tenderness and initial juiciness than COM, whereas JH was intermediate. As expected, marbling was greater (P < 0.05) for both JL and JH compared with COM, and trained sensory panel sustained juiciness, beef flavor intensity, and overall acceptability scores were greater (P < 0.05) for both JL and JH compared with COM; however, no differences (P = 0.14) were reported for consumer tenderness and flavor. Objective color (L*, a*, b*) measurements decreased (P < 0.05) over time across treatments. There were no differences among treatments for lightness (L*); however, overall during retail display JL were less (P < 0.05) red (a*) and yellow (b*) than JH and COM. Subjective color scores indicated both JL and JH were less red (P < 0.05) than COM. Steaks from Jersey were equal to and on some measurements more desirable than steaks from COM carcasses for both color stability and palatability. These results suggest that dietary forage level had minimal effects on carcass characteristics and beef palatability. However, feeding a low-forage diet decreases input cost and potentially results in a greater valued carcass. Finishing long-fed (383 d) Jersey steers can meet beef industry expectations with respect to quality grade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-972
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Beef
  • Carcass characteristic
  • Feedlot
  • Forage
  • Jersey
  • Palatability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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