Growth and meat quality of grain finished entire male Bos indicus cattle

The Growth and meat quality of grain finished entire male Bos indicus cattle project built on previous MLA research which demonstrated significant productivity gains in entire male cattle. Some live export markets actually pay a premium for entire males but in the local domestic trade, entire male cattle historically receive a heavy discount because of perceptions of poorer meat quality.

The purpose of this project was to evaluate carcass yield and quality and consumer eating quality characteristics along with growth and behaviour aspects of young entire male cattle finished on grain for the domestic trade compared with early and late castrated males.

Entire male calves were weighed and allocated to one of four treatment groups:

  1. early-castrate
  2. late-castrate
  3. short-scrotum
  4. entire.

Weaners were grown out on grass pasture to ≈330 kg liveweight, then grain fed for 75 days, prior to slaughter at 25 to 28 months of age.

Data collected included liveweights and growth rates, carcass characteristics, MSA grade and eating quality. Three muscles from thirty animals in each treatment group were further evaluated for eating quality by consumer taste panels. Non-castrated animals that met AusMeat specifications for “male” had a ≈$52 higher gross value carcasses than those from castrated animals. Only striploins from early-castrated animals were rated as being of higher eating quality than other cuts evaluated from late-castrate, short-scrotum or entire animals.

Production of young entire Bos indicus males has the potential for substantial returns for northern beef producers with little impact to meat quality. However, there is a need for further data to be generated to allow the MSA grading model to be further refined for high-grade Bos indicus cattle.

When: 1 July 2008 to 31 December 2012

Contact: Lee Fitzpatrick

Collaborator: James Cook University

More information

For more information, please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.NBP.0486) (PDF, 2.5 MB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.