The ideal steak is locally produced, Choice Angus fed a mixture of grain and grass that is traceable to the farm of origin, Iowa State University researchers say.

Researchers polled 1,432 consumers as well as animal science and business students to understand consumer attitudes about steak characteristics.

Using a conjoint analysis method commonly used in marketing, the analyses indicate that among all respondents, region of origin is by far the most important characteristic of a steak. This is followed by animal breed, traceability, animal feed and beef quality. Least important factors were cost of cut, farm ownership, use (or nonuse) of growth promoters and whether the product is guaranteed tender.

Animal science students tended to emphasize beef quality at the expense of traceability and the nonuse of growth promoters. Business students emphasized region of origin, followed by traceability and cost.

Based on these results, the ideal steak is locally produced, Choice Angus fed a mixture of grain and grass that is traceable to the farm of origin. If the product was not produced locally, respondents indicated their preferred production states are, in order from most to least preferred: Iowa, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.
Mennecke, et al, 2007, Journal of Animal Science, 85:2639.

Visible-near-infrared (VIS-NIR) scanning utilized in the processing plant can properly identify and sort carcasses into tenderness groups, Oklahoma State University (OSU) researchers say.

The Stillwater researchers sought to determine the effectiveness of a VIS-NIR system to predict the ultimate tenderness rating of various beef muscles.

The VIS-NIR system was utilized in two commercial beef-processing facilities to scan 768 carcasses. Carcasses were categorized based on their predicted 14-day longissimus muscle (LM) slice shear force value.

After scanning, 100 carcasses were randomly selected based on their tenderness classification (tender, intermediate or tough) and subprimals (ribeye rolls, clods, knuckles, top sirloins, inside rounds and eye of rounds) were removed, vacuum-packaged and transported to OSU's Food and Agricultural Products Research Center. There, 1-in. steaks were fabricated and stored in refrigerated conditions and aged for 14 days. The center steak from right-side subprimals was designated for slice shear force or Warner-Bratzler shear force analysis.

The remaining steaks were categorized based on predicted tenderness taken at 2 days postmortem with the VIS-NIR spectrophotometer and used in a consumer taste study.

The test population of 100 carcasses scanned in-plant predicted 27 carcasses as tender, 45 carcasses as intermediate and 28 carcasses as tough. The VIS-NIR system correctly classified 26 of the 28 (92.9% accuracy) tough carcasses.

Overall consumer satisfaction was greatest for steaks classified as tender and was intermediate compared with the steaks classified as tough. Researchers concluded that in-plant VIS-NIR scanning can properly identify and sort carcasses into tenderness groups, which may lead to the development of certified not-tough programs.
Price et al, 2008, Journal of Animal Science, 86:413.

Body condition score (BCS) at calving has been implicated as the single most important factor affecting postpartum interval (PPI) to estrus and pregnancy in beef cows, South Dakota State University researchers say.

In a review of the relationship between beef cow body condition and reproductive performance presented at the 2007 Range Beef Cow Symposium, researchers pointed out the importance of BCS at calving and PPI.

Research has shown that for optimum production, mature cows need to maintain an acceptable PPI to first estrus of 60 days or less. As shown in Table 1, a mature cow BCS of 5 or greater is needed to maintain an acceptable PPI of 60 days or less.

The researchers went on to note that two-year-old heifers need to be at a BCS of 6 at calving for a high probability of pregnancy during the coming breeding months.
Walter, J. and Perry, G., 2007, Range Beef Cow Symposium Proceedings, Dec. 11-13, Fort Collins, CO.

Table 1. Effect of BCS at parturition on PPI of mature cows.
BCS PPI, days
3 88.5
4 69.7
5 59.4
6 51.7
7 30.6