Regrouping unfamiliar animals in the weeks prior to slaughter has few effects on physiology and meat quality inBos taurusfeedlot steers

I. G. Colditz, D. M. Ferguson, P. L. Greenwood, V. J. Doogan, J. C. Petherick, R. J. Kilgour
2007 Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture  
The response of cattle to alterations in social groupings can lead to physiological changes that affect meat quality. Feedlot practices frequently lead to a proportion of cattle in a pen being drafted for slaughter with the balance retained for a further period until they meet market specifications. An ability to regroup such retained cattle for short periods without consequences for meat quality would facilitate efficient use of feedlot pen space. The current experiment examined the impact on
more » ... ined the impact on physiological variables and meat quality of regrouped British breed steers 4, 2 or 1 week before dispatch for slaughter. There was little effect of regrouping cattle on physiological variables associated with stress responses. Physical assessment of meat quality indicated that regrouping steers 1 week before slaughter led to higher compression and a tendency for higher peak force values in animals from one genotype than in their respective controls (1.89 v. 1.71 ± 0.05 kg, P = 0.017); however, these assessments were not matched by changes in sensory perception of meat quality. Average daily gain during feedlot finishing was negatively related to the temperament measure and flight time. It was also associated with breed, white cell count, plasma cortisol and haemoglobin at the midpoint of the 70-day finishing period. The results confirm the impact of flight time on growth rate during feedlot finishing and that regrouping cattle less than 2 weeks before slaughter may reduce meat quality. Additional keywords: animal welfare, temperament.
doi:10.1071/ea05114 fatcat:akh4l3qr2bbrhfwx4nmzpgddii