The development of analytical methods to verify the production system of meat products requires the identification of biomarkers that can trace the product’s origin, and secondly the factors that govern the deposition of these markers in animal tissue need to be defined. In this study, 2,3-octanedione, skatole and terpenes were selected as biomarkers, and their deposition was investigated in bull calves reared under three different strategies. All of the animals were reared indoors until approximately 150 days of age. They were suckled twice a day by their mothers, and both calves and cows had free access to cocksfoot hay. Then the first two groups of animals were kept indoors, suckled by their mothers twice a day and received either cocksfoot hay (HL) or freshly cut-green herbage (GL) and a limited quantity of concentrate. The third group of calves (PH) was kept on pasture with their mothers and offered concentrate ad libitum. The pasture supporting the PH animals was highly diversified, containing several terpene-rich plant species, whereas the herbage for the GL animals contained no species known to be aromatic. Perirenal and subcutaneous adipose tissues were analysed for volatile compounds. The perirenal fat was found to be more responsive to the treatment and a more reliable substrate than the subcutaneous adipose tissue. Higher levels of 2,3-octanedione (P < 0.05) were found in PH and GL than in HL fat (6.56, 6.51 and 5.77 area arbitrary units, respectively, in perirenal fat), confirming the ability of this molecule to trace green herbage feeding. Skatole was detected in the perirenal and subcutaneous fat of all the animals. Animals receiving high concentrate level (PH group) presented lower (P < 0.05) skatole values (5.83 area arbitrary units in perirenal fat) than animals receiving low concentrate level (HL and GL groups, 6.23 and 6.71 area arbitrary units, respectively, in perirenal fat). Terpenoids, and especially sesquiterpenes, were found at higher levels and diversities in the PH than in the GL and HL animals. Two monoterpenoids allowed group discrimination considering perirenal or subcutaneous fat without distinction, whereas 11 and 5 sesquiterpenoids from perirenal and subcutaneous fat, respectively, allowed it.