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Genetic and phenotypic characterisation of animal, carcass, and meat quality traits from temperate and tropically adapted beef breeds. 3. Meat quality traits

D. J. Johnston, A. Reverter, D. M. Ferguson, J. M. Thompson and H. M. Burrow

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 54(2) 135 - 147
Published: 04 March 2003


Meat quality measures, including objective measures of tenderness (shear force and compression), were taken on 2 muscles [M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) and M. semitendinosus (ST)] from 7566 carcasses from temperate (TEMP) and tropically adapted (TROP) beef cattle breeds. Animals were finished to 1 of 3 market carcass weight end-points (220, 280, or 340 kg) either on pasture or in a feedlot, and in 2 different geographic regions for TROP. Both the phenotypic and genetic expression of the traits were estimated at each market weight and for each finishing regime. Heritabilities and correlations between the traits were estimated for TEMP and TROP separately. Smaller additive variances and heritabilities were observed for temperate breeds compared with tropically adapted breeds for most of the traits studied. For TROP, the heritability of traits measured on the ST muscle [compression (ST_C), shear force (ST_SF), and L* Minolta lightness value (ST_L*)] was 0.27, 0.42, and 0.16, respectively, and for traits measured on the LTL muscle [compression (LTL_C), shear force (LTL_SF), L* Minolta lightness value (LTL_L*), a* Minolta redness value (LTL_a*), cooking loss% (LTL_CL%), and consumer assessed tenderness score (LTL_TEND)] 0.19, 0.30, 0.18, 0.13, 0.20, and 0.31, respectively. For TEMP, the heritability of traits measured on the ST muscle [ST_C, ST_SF, ST_L*, a* Minolta redness value (ST_a*), cooking loss % (ST_CL%)] was 0.12, 0.11, 0.17, 0.13, and 0.15, respectively, and of traits measured on the LTL muscle (LTL_C, LTL_SF, LTL_L, and LTL_TEND) were 0.08, 0.09, 0.17 and 0.18 respectively. Genetic correlations were moderate to high for tenderness measures (shear force and compression) between muscles for the same tenderness measure (e.g. LTL_SF and ST_SF was 0.46 for TROP) and within a muscle for the different measures (e.g. ST_C and ST_SF was 0.83 for TROP). Phenotypic and genetic correlations between LTL_L* and all objective measures of tenderness were negative (e.g. LTL_SF and LTL_L* for TROP was –0.40). The genetic relationship between LTL_SF and LTL_TEND was –0.79 and –0.49 for TROP and TEMP, respectively. Finishing system affected the phenotypic expression of all traits. Pasture-finished, compared with feedlot-finished, animals had higher shear force and compression measures, darker meat colour, and lower sensory tenderness scores for both TEMP and TROP. For TROP, heifers had higher shear force and compression measures, lower sensory tenderness scores, and darker meat colour (lower L* values) than steers. Genetic correlations between markets were generally high and close to unity with the exception of the ST_L*, LTL_L*, ST_C, and ST_SF for TEMP. Geographic region had little effect on the phenotypic and genetic expression of meat quality traits for TROP. Genetic correlations between finishing regimes for all traits were positive and close to unity, with the exception of ST_C and LTL_SF for TEMP, and LTL_L* and LTL_CL% for TROP. Genetic improvement of meat quality traits is a possibility for tropically adapted breeds given the moderate heritabilities, adequate phenotypic variance, generally favourable genetic correlations between traits, and little evidence of genotype by environment interactions.

Keywords: beef tenderness, shear force, compression, cooking loss, G × E

© CSIRO 2003

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