Water access and the carcass characteristics of Holstein slaughter cows

K. D. Vogel1 , J. R. Claus2, T.Grandin1, G.R.Oetzel2, and D. M. Schaefer1

1Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 2University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Journal of Animal Science 87: (E-Suppl. 2/J) p.368.


During the marketing process, cattle may be exposed to periods of water deprivation. The impact of water withdrawal on the carcass characteristics and fresh meat properties of Holstein slaughter cows was examined through analysis of dressing percentage, postmortem pH decline, proximate analysis, and fresh meat color. Ninety-one multiparous Holstein cows (609 89 kg mean body weight, 2.89 0.51 mean BCS, varying stage of lactation) were purchased over three weeks in three groups (n = 31, 29, and 31) at a terminal market in central Wisconsin. Each cow was randomly assigned to one of three water withdrawal treatments (control, ad libitum access to water for 36 h; 18 h withdrawal, 18 h of ad libitum access to water followed by 18 h of water withdrawal; 36 h withdrawal, 36 h of water withdrawal). Mean ambient temperatures were 1.87 6.23 degrees C during the trial period. Following the water and feed withdrawal period, all cows were transported to a commercial slaughter facility. Mean muscle protein (%) increased (P< 0.05) between 18 h (21.11 0.34%) and 36 h (22.22 0.34%) of water and feed withdrawal. Mean muscle moisture (%) decreased (P< 0.05) between 18 h (75.05 0,48%) and 36 h (73.57 0.48%) of water and feed withdrawal. Mean 24 hour pH values were 5.94 (control), 5.99 (18h withdrawal) and 5.94 (36h withdrawal) (S.E. = 0.07) and were not different. Observed pH values indicate a borderline dark-cutter state across all cattle in the study, regardless of water treatment. This study determined some effects of water and feed withdrawal during marketing on meat characteristics of Holstein slaughter cows, particularly, the presence of a borderline dark-cutting state.


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