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Beef production and quality aspects

The quality aspects of beef meat is to a large extent affected by the primary production factors and the genetics of the animals used for beef production. Among the primary production factors of importance for the quality aspects are: diet composition, feeding level and growth rate, sex of animal, exercise level and age and live weight at slaughter. Thus, a grazing animal will produce meat with a different taste and fat composition than an animal fed concentrates and cereals.

The ratio of n3/n6 fatty acids and the content of specific health promoting nutrients, vitamins and bioactive components can be greatly manipulated by choice of diet. Age, feeding level, growth rate and sex of animal affect the tenderness of the meat. Exercise level affects muscle fibre characteristics and degree of fat deposition and will also affect the final meat and eating quality. With the various breeds and genetic resources available there is also potential in affecting meat quality of the product.

Furthermore, nutrition, production factors and genetics are also important for the environmental aspects of beef production and will affect the methane production, the nitrogen losses etc. and thus have important influence on the sustainability aspects of beef production, together with the interaction between beef and nature values in extensive system. These aspects needs to be considered when evaluating the effects on beef quality aspects.

The associated research areas include expertise within feedstuffs and diets, types of production system, sustainability indicators, nature preservation, endocrinology of growth, muscle fibre characteristics, adipose tissue metabolism, nutrient partitioning, fatty acid analyses, proteolysis in muscle tissue, analyses of various biomarkers in tissue samples, carcass characteristics, meat texture, sensory perception of meat etc.

Examples of research themes within beef production and quality aspects

  • Production of organic beef from crossbred bulls and heifers
  • Utilization of pasture and roughage for improving fatty acid composition of beef
  • Improved animal welfare of beef animals by optimizing the diet composition
  • Comparison of the environmental consequences of various beef production systems
  • Use of natural grassland in production of high quality beef