November 6, 2003



Australia Tests Show Cool Cattle Helps Lower Production Costs & Gives Better Taste


Tests by Australia's main science organizations show calm cattle outperform their hotheaded counterparts in both tenderness of taste and lower production costs.

Selectively breeding beef herds from cool-headed cattle not only would increase producers' profits but also produce better tasting beef, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said.

CSIRO's laboratory in Rockhampton, Queensland, in the heart of Australia's cattle country, has been conducting tests over the past year since scientists discovered slower-moving cattle produced more tender beef than their quicker counterparts.

Tests showed not only that cool-headed cattle produced tender beef, but they also increased profitability through a smoother production process.

Poor temperament lowers cattle profitability through increased production costs. This is because of the processes involved such as gathering, maintaining cattle-handling facilities and the increased risk of injury to the cattle and their handlers.

Poor temperament also leads to decreased productivity due to the relationship with growth rates, fertility, carcass, and meat quality.

Some 12,000 carcasses were evaluated using shear force machines. This involved collecting muscle samples at slaughter and mechanically measuring the amount of force necessary to break through the tissue.

About half the samples also were taste-tested in Sydney using consumers in sporting clubs, parent and citizen associations, and similar organizations. These tests linked tenderness with temperament.

Crush-score and flight-time cattle temperament tests are now being made commercially available to farmers. The first is a subjective assessment based on how much cattle struggle when confined in a cattle crush (squeeze).

The flight-time test is an electronic version of a stopwatch. It measures the amount of time it takes for the animal to cover about two metres after it is released from a weighing crush.

The faster the speed of the animal, the poorer is its temperament.

Quiet cows outperform their faster counterparts not only in paddocks but also in feedlots, where CSIRO tests show flighty cattle tend to stand back at feeding time-failing put on as much weight as quieter breeds.

The study also indicated flighty cattle also produce less glycogen, a sugar that is capable of breaking down the muscle after slaughter.

Video >

Follow Us