Forage-fed Cattle: Sensory Profile & Fatty Acid Composition

Background and methodology
Little is known about the impact of supplementing highly digestible fiber source to cattle grazing forages on the subsequent fatty acid profile and sensory characteristics of beef. This study compared beef from cattle on forage diets, with or without soyhull (SH) supplementation, with retail beef steaks available to the typical consumer. Steaks from cattle (n =107) grazing orchard grass pasture, fescue pasture each with SH supplement or fescue pasture with no supplement were compared.

Steak from all three forage treatments had greater (P<0.05) proportions of longissimus conjugated linoleic acid (CLA; cis-9, trans-11) and lower (P<0.05) n-6-n-3 fatty acid ratios than USDA Choice or select steak. Sensory evaluation revealed that steak from the SH-supplement treatments had similar (P>0.05) beef/brothy and grassy flavor intensities than retail USDA Choice and Select steaks. Steaks from unsupplemented forage-fed cattle had decreased (P<0.05) beef/brothy and increased (P<0.05) grassy flavor intensities than USDA Choice and Select steaks. These results suggest that supplementing SHs to cattle on forage can enhance beef flavor and reduce grassy flavor characteristics similar to retail USDA Choice and Select steaks while maintaining heightened CLA proportions and a lower n-6.3 ratio.

Baublits, R. T., Pohlman, F. W., Brown, A. H., Rule, D. C., Johnson, Z.B., Onks, D. O., Murrieta, C. M., Sandelin, B. A., Richards, C. J., Loveday, H. D. and Pugh, R. B. (2006). Comparison of fatty acid and sensory profiles of beef from forage-fed cattle with retail United States Department of Agriculture choice and select beef. Journal of Muscle Foods 17:311-329.