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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Genetic divergence in residual feed intake affects growth, feed efficiency, carcass and meat quality characteristics of Angus steers in a large commercial feedlot

R. M. Herd A B I , P. F. Arthur A C , C. D. K. Bottema A D , A. R. Egarr A D , G. H. Geesink A E , D. S. Lines A D G , S. Piper A E H , J. P. Siddell A F , J. M. Thompson A E and W. S. Pitchford A D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Beef Industry Centre, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

C NSW Department of Primary Industries, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Menangle, NSW 2568, Australia.

D School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia.

E Division of Animal Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

F NSW Department of Primary Industries, Agricultural Research Station, Glen Innes, NSW 2370, Australia.

G Present address: Australian Pork Farms Group, Wasleys, SA 5400, Australia.

H Present address: The Angus Society of Australia, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.

I Corresponding author. Email: robert.herd@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13065
Submitted: 19 February 2013  Accepted: 29 July 2013   Published online: 25 February 2014

Abstract

Growth, feed intake, feed efficiency, and carcass and meat quality characteristics of 136 Angus steers differing in genetic merit for post-weaning residual feed intake (RFIp) were measured over 251 days in a large commercial feedlot. The steers were evaluated in two groups, low (Low-RFI) and high (High-RFI) genetic RFIp, measured by estimated breeding values for RFIp (RFIp-EBV). The difference in RFIp-EBV between the Low- and High-RFI groups was 1.05 kg/day (–0.44 vs 0.61 kg/day; P < 0.05). The Low- and High-RFI steers were similar (P > 0.05) in age (445 vs 444 days) and weight (435 vs 429 kg) at induction, and at the end of the feeding period (705 vs 691 kg). Average daily gain (ADG) over 251 days had a small negative association with variation in RFIp-EBV (P < 0.05), reflecting a 3.6% greater ADG accompanying a difference of 1 kg/day in RFIp-EBV. Pen feed intake and feed conversion by the Low-RFI group were 10.4 kg/day and 9.3 kg/kg, and for the High-RFI group were 11.1 kg/day and 10.4 kg/kg, but without availability of individual animal feed-intake data it was not possible to test for significant differences. Carcass weight and dressing-percentage was similar for the Low- and High-RFI steers. High-RFI steers had a significantly (P < 0.05) greater depth of subcutaneous rib fat at induction and finished with 5 mm more (P < 0.05) fat at the 10/11th ribs on the carcass than the Low-RFI steers. Cross-sectional area of the eye-muscle and three measures of intramuscular or marbling fat did not differ (P > 0.05) between the Low- and High-RFI steers. Shear force was higher (P < 0.05) in meat samples aged for 1 day from the Low-RFI steers, but there was no difference (P > 0.05) from the High-RFI steers after 7 days of ageing. Compression values for meat samples aged for 1 day did not differ between the RFI groups but were higher in meat samples aged for 7 days from the Low-RFI steers. For these Angus steers, genetic superiority in RFI was associated phenotypically with superior weight gain, decreased rib fat depth, slightly less tender meat, and no compromise in marbling fat or other carcass and meat quality traits.

Additional keywords: beef cattle, calpastatin, fat, marbling, NFI, RFI, tenderness.


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