Meat from Holstein and crossbred organic and conventional dairy steers were evaluated and compared for fatty acid profiles, meat quality, sensory attributes, and consumer acceptance. Bull calves (n. = 49) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 replicated groups: conventional (CONV), organic (ORG, pasture + concentrate), or grass-fed organic (GRS) and were born at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (Morris, MN) between March and May 2011. The CONV steers (n. = 16) were fed a diet that contained 80% concentrate and 20% forage, and ORG steers (n. = 16) were fed a diet of organic corn, organic corn silage, and organic protein supplement. Furthermore, ORG steers consumed at least 30% of diet dry matter of high-quality organic pasture during the grazing season. The GRS steers (n. = 17) consumed 100% forage from pasture during the grazing season and high-quality hay or hay silage during the nongrazing season. The ORG steers had fat that was greater in oleic acid (C18:1) than the GRS and CONV steers (47.1, 36.1, and 39.9%, respectively). The GRS steers (21.9%) were lower for monounsaturated fat than the ORG (42.1%) and CONV (40.4%) steers. Furthermore, the GRS steers tended to have greater n-3 fat and had lower n-6 fat than the ORG and CONV steers. Consequently, the GRS (1.4%) steers had a lower n-6-to-n-3 fat ratio than the ORG (12.9%) and CONV (10.0%) steers. The GRS (2.6. kg) steers had steaks that were not different for Warner-Bratzler shear force than ORG (2.3. kg) steaks; however, the GRS steaks tended to have greater shear force than the CONV (2.0. kg) steaks. The 3 steer group had steaks that were not different for color brightness (L*; 0 = black and 100 = white) and yellowness/blueness (b*; positive values = yellow and negative values = blue) values; however, the GRS (10.5) steaks had lower redness/greenness (a*; positive values = red and negative values = green) values than CONV (14.5) steaks. For sensory attributes (0- to 120-point scale), no differences were observed for ORG (71.3) and CONV (69.2) steers for overall consumer liking of the beef; however, the GRS (56.3) steers had the lowest overall liking among beef consumers. The ORG (73.3) steers had greater flavor liking than the GRS (56.8) and CONV (69.2) steers. Conversely, the GRS (6.3) steers had the highest scores for off-flavor (0- to 20-point scale) compared with the ORG (3.9) and CONV (4.1) steers. The results of the current study suggest that a potential market may exist for organic grass-fed dairy steers in the United States, but quality and consistency of the beef needs to be improved.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors express gratitude to Darin Huot and coworkers at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (Morris) for their assistance in data collection and care of animals. This study was supported by US Department of Agriculture North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant no. GNC12-150 , “Effect of Growth, Meat Quality, and Profitability of Organically Raised Dairy-Beef Steers.”
- Dairy steer
- N-3 fatty acid