Collagen, intramuscular fat and proteolysis affect Warner-Bratzler shear-force of muscles from Bos taurus breed types differently at weaning, after backgrounding on pasture, and after feedlotting

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  • Margrethe Therkildsen
  • Paul L. Greenwood, University of New England
  • ,
  • Colin P. Starkey, University of New England
  • ,
  • Malcolm McPhee, University of New England
  • ,
  • Brad Walmsley, University of New England
  • ,
  • Jason Siddell, University of New England, Agricultural Research and Advisory Station
  • ,
  • Geert Geesink, University of New England
Context: The texture of beef is highly important for the eating experience, and there is a continued interest in understanding the biochemical basis for the variation in texture between cattle and their meat cuts in order to improve and minimise variation in tenderness due to production and processing factors.

Aims: The present study aimed to investigate the impact of characteristics of meat on Warner-Bratzler shear-force (WBSF) as an indicator of texture of beef as affected by breed type, age/feeding phase, and muscle.

Methods: Seventy-five steers of three breed types (Angus, Hereford and Wagyu × Angus) were slaughtered after weaning 6 months old (n = 15), after backgrounding 17 months old (n = 30) and after feedlotting 25 months old (n = 30). At slaughter three muscles (M. supraspinatus, M. semitendinosus and M. longissimus lumborum) were sampled from each steer, and pH, intramuscular fat and collagen content, sarcomere length, and proteolysis (desmin degradation) were measured and used to explain the variation in WBSF after 7 and 14 days of aging.

Key results: Meat from Hereford and Angus steers had higher WBSF after 7 days of aging compared with Wagyu × Angus steers, but after 14 days of aging there was only a difference between Hereford and Wagyu × Angus in the M. supraspinatus and M. semitendinosus. The WBSF of the young weaned steers and steers slaughtered after backgrounding were dependent on the degree of proteolysis in the muscles, whereas for steers slaughtered after feedlotting the content of collagen was more important for the WBSF. The amount of intramuscular fat had a significant impact on the differences in WBSF within the specific muscle studied. In contrast to the general dogma that WBSF increase with age, WBSF decreased in M. semitendinosus and M. longissimus lumborum from the weaned 6-month-old steers to the 25-month-old steers finished in feed-lot, whereas in M. supraspinatus the older feed-lot finished steers had a higher WBSF.

Conclusion: The factors contributing to the Warner-Bratzler shear force of beef depends on the age/feeding phase of the animal and the muscle and less on the breed type.

Implications: Optimisation of texture in beef through breeding and production should address different traits dependent on the age/feeding phase of the slaughter animal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Production Science
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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