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A comparison of Friesian, Aberdeen AngusxFriesian and Belgian BluexFriesian steers finished at pasture or indoors

Keane, M.G., Drennan, M.J.
Livestock science 2008 v.115 no.2-3 pp. 268-278
age at slaughter, breed differences, beef carcasses, Angus, pastures, feeding methods, grazing, beef quality, steers, Holstein, beef, finishing, dry matter intake, animal performance, carcass evaluation, Irish Republic
Cross-breeding of dairy cows with beef bulls is common in Ireland with the Aberdeen Angus and Belgian Blue beef breeds both widely used. These breeds differ in maturity and consequently in their suitability for production systems differing in intensity and slaughter age. The objective of this study was to compare spring-born Holstein-Friesian (FR), Aberdeen AngusxHolstein-Friesian (AA) and Belgian Blue xHolstein-Friesian (BB) steers slaughtered off pasture at the end of their second grazing season or slaughtered at the end of the second winter following indoor finishing. Fifty-four (18 per breed type) steers were managed together to 16 months of age. They were then blocked on weight within breed type and assigned to a 3 (breed types)x2 (finishing strategies) factorial experiment. The two finishing strategies were (i) concentrate supplementation (mean 3.65 kg/day) at pasture for 105 days to slaughter, and (ii) pasture only for 105 days followed by indoor finishing on grass silage plus concentrates for 141 days to slaughter. Mean slaughter and carcass weights per day of age for FR, AA and BB were 852, 802 and 834 (S.E. 13.1) g, and 427, 412 and 452 (S.E. 7.3) g, respectively. Corresponding kill-out proportions, carcass conformation and carcass fat classes were 501, 514 and 542 (S.E. 2.4) g/kg, 1.90, 2.15 and 2.89 (S.E. 0.073), and 3.09, 3.27 and 2.59 (S.E. 0.122), respectively. The response to concentrates at pasture was 101 g live weight and 83 g carcass weight per kg dry matter. It is concluded that there were few differences between FR and AA in carcass growth and composition but BB had heavier carcasses of better conformation with higher proportions of lean meat and high-value lean joints than both FR and AA. Acceptable live weight and carcass weight gains were obtained on pasture plus concentrates but BB and FR carcasses were not acceptably finished off pasture. Both FR and AA produced acceptable carcasses following indoor finishing and BB carcasses, while below the target fat class, were acceptably finished based on internal fat and dissected carcass fat proportions.