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.

There is significant potential for young, entire male cattle from northern breeding properties to be value-added through grain-finishing, however, meat eating quality perceptions of entire young Bos indicus are largely unsubstantiated. In addition, there are significant animal welfare benefits to be gained if castration of these animals is avoided.

The project aimed to:

  1. Test the hypothesis that entire male Bos indicus cattle from a north Queensland breeding herd, when grown out to ≈300 kg liveweight and finished at ≈460 kg liveweight by grain feeding for 70 days in a feedlot, will produce a carcass of comparable characteristics and eating quality to that of early and late castrated males.
  2. Evaluate the economic returns, production parameters, feedlot performance, carcass characteristics, eating quality and animal welfare and behaviour issues associated with early and late castrated, short-scrotum and entire male calves, that have been sourced from northern breeding herds and grain finished.
  3. Produce a plan outlining future possible marketing and research strategies which will support the findings of this research.

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.

When: 1 July 2008 to 31 December 2012

Contact: Lee Fitzpatrick

Collaborator: James Cook University