Different forage affects beef cattle weight, taste

By Peter Kent

Cattle are what they eat. The forage – grasses and other plants – beef cattle eat affects the nutrition and tastiness of the meat.

Clemson animal science researchers report that steers grazing on one of five forages kept in paddocks showed significant differences in growth, carcass and meat quality.

The research can help cattle producers with alternatives to corn and feed when they are looking to add weight and value to their animals prior to sale.

The research found that finishing on legumes (alfalfa and cowpea) increased carcass quality, and in taste tests consumers preferred the flavor of the meat. Finishing on bermuda grass and pearl millet improved the levels of healthy fatty acids that may reduce cancer risks.

“The study is useful to beef producers in the Southeast, where summer heat is a challenge for finishing cattle,” said John Andrae, a forage and pasture specialist. “These forages have potential to boost steer growth and quality when traditional cool-season forages are either dormant or have slow growth rates and don’t do as good a job finishing cattle for market.”

Learn more about livestock and forages: