Research has shown both production and health benefits for the use of chicory (Cichorium intybus) within ruminant diets. Despite this, little was known about the the effects of this forage, containing differing fatty acid profiles and secondary plant compounds compared to ryegrass, on beef stability, fatty acid composition or sensory properties. An experiment was conducted to investigate whether the inclusion of chicory in the diet of grazing beef steers would alter the meat stability, fatty acid composition and sensory properties of the M. Longissimus muscle compared to beef steers grazing perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Triplicate 2 ha plots were established with a chicory (cv. Puna II) / perennial ryegrass (cv. Premium) mix or a perennial ryegrass (cv. Premium) control. A core group of 36 Belgian Blue - cross steers were used within a two-year beef finishing experiment (n=6 per replicate plot). In the second grazing year, steers were slaughtered as they reached a target fat class of 3. After dressing, half carcass sides were hung for 48 h and then then quartered between the junction of the 10th and 11th rib. Muscle pH was checked at 2 and 48 h post-slaughter. A 250 mm-long section of the hindloin joint containing the M. Longissimus lumborum muscle was removed from the left side of the carcass, posterior to the 10th rib. A 20 mm-thick steak was cut and a muscle sample was vacuum packed and frozen at -20° C for subsequent analysis of vitamin E, a further steak being retained for fatty acid analysis. The remaining section of the loin was vacuum-packed in modified atmosphere packs and subjected to simulated retail display. The remaining section of the conditioned loin was used for sensory analysis. Data on pH, vitamin E concentration and colour stability in a simulated retail display showed there were no effects of including chicory in the diet of grazing beef steers on meat stability. There were also no differences found in the fatty acid composition or the overall eating quality of the steaks from the two treatments. In conclusion, there were no substantive effects of including chicory in the swards of grazing beef cattle on meat stability, fatty acid composition or sensory properties when compared with beef steers grazing ryegrass-only swards.
- Cattle, Cichorium intybus, meat, lipid, forage
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- Stability, fatty acid composition and sensory properties of the M. Longissimus muscle from beef steers grazing either chicory/ryegrass or ryegrass
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