Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Double muscling in cattle: a review

PF Arthur

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 46(8) 1493 - 1515
Published: 1995


Muscular hypertrophy of genetic origin in cattle, commonly referred to as double muscling, is reviewed in this paper with a discussion on its possible use in beef and dairy-beef production systems in Australia. The double-muscled syndrome is an inherited condition, and is found in many breeds of cattle. The highest frequency of occurrence is found in the Piedmontese and Belgian Blue breeds. Deliberate effort was made in the last few decades to increase the frequency of double muscling in these two breeds. The syndrome is associated with some production problems such as reduced fertility, dystocia and reduced calf survival. Cattle showing the syndrome, however, have higher meat yield, a higher proportion of expensive cuts of meat, and lean and very tender meat. The superior meat and carcase characteristics have been responsible for their widespread use in Europe, where premium price is paid for double muscled carcases. Piedmontese and Belgian Blue cattle have recently been imported into Australia. These double-muscled breeds will have a role to play in beef and dairy-beef production systems in Australia. For commercial production it is recommended that the breeding female herd be kept free from double muscling. A terminal sire breeding system is suggested, whereby normal females are mated to double muscled sires and all progeny slaughtered.

Keywords: double muscling; cattle; muscular hypertrophy

© CSIRO 1995

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