Girard, I., Aalhus, J. L., Basarab, J. A., Larsen, I. L. and Bruce, H. L. 2012. Modification of beef quality through steer age at slaughter, breed cross and growth promotants. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 92: 175-188. A 23 factorial experiment tested the interactions of slaughter age (12-13 or 18-20 mo), growth implants use (Component E-S, TE-S), ractopamine hydrochloride (RAC) feed supplementation use and breed cross [Hereford-Aberdeen Angus (HAA) or Charolais-Red Angus (CRA)] on pH, temperature, objective colour measurements, relative myoglobin states, sarcomere lengths, shear force, and water losses of m. semitendinosus (ST) and m. gluteus medius (GM) from 112 crossbred steers. In the ST, age affected objective colour measurements by increasing chroma and decreasing lightness (L*) and hue angle (P<0.05). Metmyoglobin (MMB) content of the ST also increased with steer age (P<0.05). In the GM, yearling-fed steers had greater MMB content than calf-fed steers, while hue angle varied the opposite way (P<0.05). Other variations in meat colour and myoglobin contents were more complex in the GM than the ST as they involved three-way interactions between the different treatments. Shear force and purge loss of the ST increased with implantation (P<0.05) with no change in sarcomere length (P>0.05). Shear force standard deviation was similar for breed crosses when yearling-fed but greatest for CRA breed cross when calf-fed (P<0.05). In both muscles, purge loss was increased by RAC supplementation (P<0.05). RAC supplementation did not affect sarcomere length and shear force in both muscles (P>0.10). In the GM, shear force increased with age and with CRA genetics (P<0.05). Results indicated that producers seeking to reduce beef toughness should consider using British crossbreds, exclude the use of hormonal implants and slaughter process steers at 12 to13 mo of age.
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