Opportunities for pasture-raised Jersey beef in the Southeast
The objective of this study was to determine consumer acceptability of beef loin steaks from grass-finished (GF) Jersey X Holstein cattle (n = 12) when compared to concentrate-finished (CF) Jersey X Holstein cattle (n = 12) and choice graded dairy-influence cattle (DI) (n = 12). Prior to the study, all Jersey cross cattle were fed 2.26 kg per head per day concentrate ration with ad libitum hay. Cattle within the GF treatment group were rotationally grazed for 84 d on warm season grasses before harvest. Cattle within the CF treatment group were fed a concentrate ration of 77.25 % corn, 10 % corn silage, and 11 % soybean meal 84 d before harvest. Average daily gain was .57 kg for GF and 1.5 kg for CF. Cattle were harvested between 22-25 mo of age, with average harvest weights of 428.6 kg for GF and 480.1 kg for CF cattle. Dressing percent was lower (P < 0.05) for GF (46.5 vs. 52.5 %) than CF cattle. Smaller REA was recorded (P < 0.05) for GF (60.8 vs. 63.6 cm2) as compared to CF cattle. There was no difference (P > 0.05) in %KPH, and 12th rib fat thickness. All meat was aged for 14 d before being cut into 2.54 cm steaks. Meat from the GF and CF treatments was then frozen until further analysis. Beef loin steaks, aged for 14 d, were secured from a Green Bay, Wisconsin packer for the choice grade dairy influence comparison. Carcass data on the DI treatment was not recorded. Intramuscular crude fat analyses revealed differences (P < 0.05) among treatments, with GF 1.7 %, CF 3.7 %, and DI 5.6 % fat. All steaks were cooked to an internal temperature of 70 °C using Faberware open hearth grills. Cooked steaks were cut into 2.54 X 1.27 X 2.54 cm pieces to be presented to consumers. The consumer acceptability panel (n = 124) consisted of 58.9 % female and 41.1 % male. Panelists were asked to evaluate samples using a 9-point hedonic scale to determine acceptance in overall, flavor, juiciness, and tenderness liking. Mean liking scores for GF, CF, and DI were reported on the acceptable side of the hedonic scale (> 5.0). There were no differences (P > 0.05) in overall liking among all treatments. No differences (P > 0.05) were detected in flavor liking among the treatments. For juiciness liking, CF had higher (P < 0.05) scores than GF (6.13 vs. 5.67), but CF was not different from DI. For tenderness liking, CF had higher (P < 0.05) scores compared to GF (6.34 vs. 5.56), but CF was not different from DI. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in WBS values among all the treatments. When consumers were asked to make a forced choice preference ranking, CF had higher (P < 0.05) percentage preference than GF (40.9 % vs. 25 %) but CF was not different from DI. These data suggest that beef loin steaks from CF were preferred by more panelists in contrast to beef loin steaks from GF. However, consumers rated beef loin steaks from grass fed Jersey cattle acceptable for overall, flavor, juiciness, and tenderness liking. Cattle producers may consider marketing grass fed beef if demand for this niche product is present.