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Using genomics effectively improves carcass and meat quality

“Carcass and meat quality are important attributes of the beef industry because they drive profitability and consumer demand and they can also be improved,” said Raluca Mateescu, University of Florida professor. Mateescu gave her presentation, “Genomics Use in Improving Meat Quality in Cattle” during the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation Symposium June 24 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mateescu explained why carcass and meat quality are so important to the beef industry.

It’s no secret that carcass and meat quality drive the profitability of the beef industry and work to meet consumer demands, these attributes can always be improved. Mateescu explained the attributes are important across every sector of the beef industry but are more important for Bos indicus crosses as they tend to underperform compared to purebreds.



The use of genomics will allow this improvement to happen without the challenge of measuring carcass and meat quality once the carcass is on the rail. Mateescu and her team had a goal to identify pleiotropic effects for carcass and meat quality traits in crossbred cattle. Carcass and meat quality are complex concepts, so the team created three sectors to focus on: carcass quality, visual meat quality and sensory meat quality.

“Genetic improvement is not viable through phenotypic solutions, but these traits are perfect candidates for genomic selection,” Mateescu said.



THE PROJECT

“For carcass quality, we picked marbling and ribeye area because we thought of them as being economically important traits. If we are going to look at including some of these traits in the selection scheme, those would probably be the ones that we would be more interested in including in the selection,” Mateescu explained.

Mateescu and her team phenotyped 2,385 animals from the University of Florida multibreed Angus x Brahman herd. For carcass quality, the team analyzed the hot carcass weight, marbling, fat over the rib and the ribeye area. The team looked at visual meat quality consisting of color, texture and firmness. Additionally, sensory meat quality was studied through juiciness, tenderness, connective tissue, flavor and off flavor.

The project found moderate to high heritability estimates for the carcass traits of marbling at 0.49, 0.53 for ribeye area and 0.43 for tenderness. There were low heritability estimates for sensory meat quality with 0.18 for firmness, 0.15 for juiciness, 0.14 for color, 0.12 for texture, and 0.11 for flavor. However, there are strong genetic correlations between marbling and juiciness at 0.66 and between marbling and flavor at 0.99. Marbling and tenderness are economically important traits and have lower genetic correlation in B. indicus compared to B. taurus cattle. The team identified several candidate genes with pleiotropic effects on carcass quality, sensory and visual meat quality. Most of these genes are key players in cell growth, muscle development, lipid metabolism and fat deposition.

“This work provided novel information on the genetic architecture of carcass and meat quality traits in beef cattle,” Mateescu summarized.

To watch the full presentation, visit https://youtu.be/ig-Ozjc9Ess. For more information about the Symposium and the Beef Improvement Federation, including additional presentations and award winners, visit BIFSymposium.com.


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