In grass-based beef production systems (PS), early maturing (EM) breed types may be preferable to late maturing (LM) breed types in achieving adequate fat cover. Biochemical and organoleptic characteristics of muscle from suckler bulls were investigated in EM and LM (n = 28/breed) assigned to one of two PS (ad libitum concentrates and grass silage to slaughter (C) or ad libitum silage plus 2 kg concentrate daily during winter followed by 99 days at pasture and then an indoor finishing period on C (GSPC)) in a breed type × 2 PS factorial arrangement of treatments. Bulls were managed to have a common target carcass weight of 380 kg. Intramuscular fat (IMF) content was higher ( P<0.05) for EM than LM, and for C than GSPC bulls. Collagen solubility was higher ( P<0.05) for C than GSPC bulls. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and phosphofructokinase activities were higher ( P<0.05) for LM than EM. Isocitrate dehydrogenase activity and the Type I myosin heavy chain (MyHC) proportion were higher ( P<0.05) for EM than LM. The LDH activity and the Type IIX MyHC proportion were higher ( P<0.05) for C than GSPC bulls. Sensory ratings for tenderness and juiciness were higher ( P<0.01) for beef from EM than LM while sensory ratings for tenderness, flavour liking and overall liking were higher ( P<0.001) for C than for GSPC bulls. Differences in sensory quality were largely eliminated when adjusted for IMF. Overall, carcass fat scores, IMF and sensory scores were higher in EM than LM and in C than GSPC bulls but most differences in sensory quality could be attributed to differences in IMF.
- breed type
- intramuscular fat