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Genetic and phenotypic characterisation of animal, carcass, and meat quality traits from temperate and tropically adapted beef breeds. 2. Abattoir carcass traits

A. Reverter, D. J. Johnston, D. Perry, M. E. Goddard and H. M. Burrow

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 54(2) 119 - 134
Published: 04 March 2003


A total of 11 abattoir carcass measures were recorded on 7854 carcasses in temperate (TEMP) and tropically adapted (TROP) beef breeds. Breeds for TEMP included Angus, Hereford, Murray Grey, and Shorthorn; Brahman, Belmont Red, and Santa Gertrudis accounted for TROP breeds. Measurements included carcass weight (CWT), retail beef yield percentage (RBY), intramuscular fat percentage (IMF), subcutaneous fat depth at the P8 site (P8) and at 12/13th rib (RIB), eye muscle length by width (ELW), deep butt temperature (DBTEMP), fat colour score (FATC), meat colour score (MEATC), marbling score (MARB), and carcass muscle score (MUSC). Animals were finished to 3 different market weight endpoints, either on pasture or in a feedlot, and in different geographic regions for the TROP breeds. Both the phenotypic and genetic expressions of the traits were estimated at each level of market weight endpoint and finishing regime. Heritabilities (h2), and genetic (rg) and phenotypic (rp) correlations between traits were estimated for TEMP and TROP separately. The design effects of market weight endpoint and finishing regimes were the most important sources of variation for continuously measured traits. Main effects for the scored traits were finishing regime for FATC and MEATC and market weight endpoint for MARB and MUSC. Feedlot finished cattle had the whitest FATC and the lightest MEATC. For TEMP, estimates of h2 for CWT, RBY, IMF, P8, RIB, ELW, DBTEMP, FATC, MEATC, MARB, and MUSC were 0.39, 0.57, 0.38, 0.36, 0.27, 0.30, 0.10, 0.05, 0.11, 0.17, and 0.14, respectively. In comparison, h2 for the same order of traits for TROP were 0.36, 0.50, 0.39, 0.30, 0.41, 0.32, 0.04, 0.09, 0.11, 0.25, and 0.11. The direction and magnitude of rg between traits were similar for TEMP and TROP, particularly between CWT, RBY, IMF, P8, and RIB. Genetic correlations of RBY were moderate and negative with all measures of fatness, including IMF (–0.38 TEMP and –0.43 TROP). Positive rg existed between all measures of fatness, with MARB and IMF close to unity. Negative rg was estimated between CWT and all fat measurements. Also negative were the rg and rp estimates between CWT and MEATC. For all traits in both TEMP and TROP, domestic weight carcasses exhibited lower additive variance than export market carcasses. However, genetic correlations between traits across market weight endpoints were positive and close to unity, with the exception of RBY for TROP. For TEMP breeds, genetic correlations between finishing regimes were close to unity. However, possible genotype by environment interactions were found for TROP for P8, MEATC, and MARB between finishing in different geographic regions, and between feedlot and pasture finished animals for RBY and MEATC. Genetic improvement of carcass traits is a possibility given the moderate heritabilities, moderate to strong genetic correlations, and little evidence of genotype by environment interactions.

Keywords: beef cattle, marbling, genetic parameters, G × E.

© CSIRO 2003

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