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Agricultural News

Fetal Programming Studied to Increase Marbling and Reduce Yield Grade

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:47:05 CST

Fetal Programming Studied to Increase Marbling and Reduce Yield Grade
Talk about the best of both worlds, early fetal programming work shows that cow herd management could increase marbling while reducing back fat in calves. Meat scientists recently looked at cow nutrition during mid gestation, a critical time for fetal muscle and marbling development. South Dakota State University's Amanda Blair isn't ready to give blanket recommendations just yet, but says the results are encouraging.

"We've seen calves that are born to cows that are in a negative energy status during gestation had improved yield grades and also had what we call improved marbling ratios where they had more marbling in relation to subcutaneous or back fat which is a favorable distribution if you look at the dynamics of the industry if we're wanting to improve quality grading by increasing marbling and dropping that yield grade down. So, that marbling ratio was an interesting result that we found from this work."

There is no difference in meat appearance or other traits like tenderness.

"When producers hear a lot of this work on fetal programming, it makes sense because we can understand it from the human side. We've heard things like pregnant women aren't supposed to drink or smoke and they need to eat healthy. So, it makes sense that what's going on during gestation could have a long-term impact on the offspring. But I think we're really at the tip of the iceberg on finding out how to use this as a potential management tool at least in regards to the research that we've been conducting on carcass merit."

Previous Nebraska work shows that supplementation in the third trimester improves grading on harvested progeny and performance of retained heifer calves. That's proof that more study is needed to fine tune guidelines, Blair says.

"It's an interesting area of research and it lends itself to a lot of follow-up studies."



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