Management systems for finishing beef cattle, designed to meet environmental goals in the Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) of the UK, often rely on the integration of grazing of semi-natural pastures with sown permanent pasture. In this experiment, three management options were compared: (i) permanent pasture for grazing and silage production (treatment PP), (ii) permanent pasture for grazing and silage and grazing of Molinia-dominant semi-natural pasture in summer from June to August inclusively (treatment PP + SNP) and (iii) permanent pasture for grazing and silage and red clover (RC) silage for 0·25 of the silage requirement in winter (treatment PP + RC). The performance of spring-born Welsh Black steers was measured from turnout in spring 2002 until finishing in summer 2003. During summer 2002, the liveweight gain of steers grazing the semi-natural pasture was significantly lower than that of steers grazing the permanent pasture. There was a trend for the liveweight gains of the steers on the PP + SNP treatment to be higher from housing in autumn 2002, and live weights on all treatments were similar at the start of the red clover-feeding phase. Steers offered red clover silage had a significantly higher liveweight gains than those offered grass silage, but there was only a trend for a higher live weight at the end of the winter-feeding period. During summer 2003, liveweight gains were again higher on the permanent pasture. Finishing system significantly affected the fatty-acid profile of the meat produced, but there was no difference in the colour of meat in relation to shelf-life. Lipid oxidation was less for the meat from steers on the PP + SNP treatment than on the PP treatment, which, in turn, was less than for meat from the steers on the PP + RC treatment, and was in inverse proportion to the vitamin E concentration in the loin muscle. There were no significant differences in sensory panel scores for texture, juiciness or flavour of the meat.
|Number of pages||17|
|Journal||Grass and Forage Science|
|Early online date||01 Aug 2007|
|Publication status||Published - Sept 2007|
- Molinia caerulea
- liveweight gain
- meat quality