The impact of disease on carcass traits

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Several earlier research trials have indicated that sickness in cattle can affect carcass quality and value, and a new report from the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb., supports those findings.

The researchers investigated the effects of bovine respiratory disease and overall incidence of pathogenic diseases on carcass traits. They studied two groups of cattle, with the first group consisting of 642 crossbred steers derived from seven British and Continental breeds.

The second group included 621 crossbred steers derived from tropically adapted Bos taurus and Bos indicus-influenced breeds as well as British breeds. During the feeding trial, 20 percent of the cattle in the first group and 24 percent of those in the second group required treatment for BRD. In both groups, treated cattle had significantly lower fat cover. Treated cattle in group 1 tended to produce lower percentage of Choice carcasses. Shear force measurements showed significantly lower tenderness in beef from cattle in group 2 that were treated for BRD.

Researchers concluded that the relationship between disease and carcass traits should be given consideration by future studies.

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