Forage & Grain Feeding Effect on Beef Carcass Characteristics

Background and methodology
Forage finishing of beef has produced mixed results on carcass characteristics and palatability attributes. Days on feed can be controlled so that diet differences in carcass composition and palatability attributes can be compared at similar times on feed for cattle fed either forage or high-grain diets. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of forage vs grain finishing on carcass characteristics, fatty acid composition and palatability attributes when time on feed is controlled. Limousin-cross steers (n = 135; 238±26 kg) were used for the study. Diets included a 95% alfalfa silage ration (AS) or 68% high-moisture corn, 25% alfalfa silage ration (HMC).

Grain feeding generally increased (P<.01) ADG, carcass weight, grade fat, and intramuscular fat content when compared with forage feeding at similar times on feed. Palatability attributes of ribeye roasts and ground beef were generally unaffected (P>.10) by diet with the exception of slightly less beef flavor and more off-flavor in forage-fed vs grain-fed beef. Higher (P<.01) concentrations of linoleic acid and lower (P<.10) concentrations of oleic acid in forage-fed beef may be partially responsible for diet differences in flavor.


Mandell, I. B., Buchanan-Smith, J. G. & Campbell C. P. (1998). Effects of forage vs grain feeding on carcass characteristics. Fatty acid composition and beef quality in Limousin-cross steers when time on feeding is controlled. J. Anim. Sci. 76:2619-2630.