10 April 1998

Grass finishing gives less fat

CONTINENTAL steers and heifers finished on grass-based finishing systems have less carcass fat than those finished on concentrates when performance, such as targeted weight gain, is identical.

It is accepted that cattle finished on grass silage have higher levels of body fat than cattle finished on concentrates. But researchers wanted to establish if the same was true for cattle finished on a diet of grazed grass.

Research at the Agricultural Research Institute, Hillsborough, monitored the performance of cattle fed three different levels of concentrate between 95% and 73% of ad-lib intakes, supplemented with straw, against cattle on grazed grass.

Steers finished to 600kg and heifers to 540kg liveweight were commercially jointed and assessed for lean meat, fat and bone carcass composition.

Although concentrate-fed cattle had higher daily liveweight gains (0.83-0.68kg), compared with grass fed cattle at 0.65kg, researchers calculated that fat contents were lower for cattle finished on grass.