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Effect of growth rate on tenderness development and final tenderness of meat from Friesian calves

  • M. Therkildsen (a1), L. Melchior Larsen (a2), H. G. Bang (a3) and M. Vestergaard (a1)

Abstract

The present study was conducted to determine the effect of growth rate of calves on the activity of the calpain system post mortem, post mortem desmin degradation, myofibrillar fragmentation index and meat tenderness of m. longissimus lumborum (LL) and m. supraspinatus (SS). Twenty-four Friesian heifer calves were allocated to two treatment groups: MM and HH. The MM calves were given food to achieve a moderate growth rate (678 g/day from 5 days of age to 90 kg body weight (BW) (period I) and 770 g/day from 90 kg BW to slaughter at 250 kg BW (period II)) and the HH calves were given food to achieve a high growth rate (period I: 895 g/day and period II: 1204 g/day). The myofibril fragmentation index (MFI), desmin degradation and the activity of µ-calpain, m-calpain and calpastatin were measured in LL and SS at slaughter, and 1 and 7 days post mortem. Shear force was measured in LL and SS after 1 and 7 days of ageing and a sensory panel evaluated the eating quality of the loin aged 7 days. MFI (P < 0·01) and tenderness (P < 0·01) were higher and shear force was lower (P < 0·001) in meat from HH calves compared with meat from MM calves. However, growth rate did not affect the activity of µ-calpain, m-calpain or calpastatin or the degradation pattern of desmin at any time post mortem. Besides growth rate and MFI at day 7 post mortem, which both correlated positively with meat tenderness (P < 0·001 and P < 0·01, respectively), fibre type traits and DNA or RNA concentrations were not generally related to final tenderness. Thus, it was concluded that increased growth rate of calves before slaughter increased the ease of fragmentation (MFI) of the meat and improved the tenderness but these findings could not be related to any changes in the activity of the calpain system.

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Effect of growth rate on tenderness development and final tenderness of meat from Friesian calves

  • M. Therkildsen (a1), L. Melchior Larsen (a2), H. G. Bang (a3) and M. Vestergaard (a1)

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