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Animal Prod Essay

Animal Prod Essay

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Published by Ellen Adams

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Published by: Ellen Adams on Aug 31, 2012
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Ellen Adams3.20 Animal Production II
The Effect of Dietary Fat on Carcass Composition and Meat Quality of Cattle
Fat digestion and metabolism varies widely amongst animal species commonly perpetrated inlivestock farming within the UK. In the beef industry excess fat production is directly linked witha decrease in profit due to its coupling with a rise in associated ‘Diseases of the WesternCivilisation’ -especially those of a cardiovascular nature (Marshall 1994; Scollan
et al 
., 2001).Consumer demand is increasingly moving towards ‘healthier’ means of fulfilling nutritionalrequirements. This essay will therefore analyse the effects of current feeding methods upon thenutritional status of beef carcasses, and the means with which industry is attempting tomanipulate carcass fat content in order to minimise fats detrimental to human health, whilstmaximising those proving physiologically beneficial.
The Role of Lipids in the Ruminant
 Lipids constitute less than 3% of overall dietary energy, being derived mainly fromsaturated, monounsaturated, and highly polyunsaturated stores, found in animal tallow,soybean, and fish/linseed oil respectively, as well as various forage and grain (Chilliard, 1993).They are fed to cattle for a variety of reasons, including their energy density, economic cost,use in the manipulation of nutrient uptake and digestion in the rumen (for example lipids reduceruminal acidosis caused by carbohydrate-dense diets) and also for the satiation of consumer demand (Landblom
et al 
, 2002). Lipid uptake is a particularly difficult feat to encourage inruminants, as fatty acid composition is determined largely by the symbiotic interaction of therumen microflora with dietary components, eluting an array of responses in relation to whichfats are supplemented (Rule
et al 
., 1994; Felton and Kerley, 2004).
Table 1.
The differences in ruminal pH, concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFAs), and total ammonia productionin relation to molar proportion. (Courtesy of Onetti
et al 
., 2001)
The previous table illustrates the differences incurred when feeding a choice of only two lipidfractions. The significant differences observed suggest that digestion of the many lipid fractionsin existence would elute variable responses.When dietary fat (consisting mainly of unsaturated fatty acids) is ingested, it is converted tosaturated fatty acids (SFAs), of which oleate is the predominant fatty acid form in both bovinemuscle and adipose tissue. However, source of dietary fat has an overall influence upon thedegree of fatty acid saturation and therefore the overall profile of the animal. It is recommendedat present that humans should consume a diet low in saturated fat but of higher polyunsaturated levels (PUFA); particularly of the long chain (C
-3 and
-6 variety as theycannot be synthesised directly by the body and thus require a source of α-linolenic (18:3
3)and linoleic acid (18:2
-3) found only in meat, fish, and eggs (Xu
et al 
., 2006). These FAs arethe sole fats to be beneficial to overall health status, and are commonly sought after byconsumers in sources such as salmon and nuts due to negative disorders, e.g. colon cancer,being correlated with heightened consumption of red meat (Eynard and Lopez,2003).It is currently being postulated, therefore, that improving the quality of carcasses by alteringtheir fatty acid composition so as to meet consumer demand for PUFA-dense meat, willimprove the economy of the beef sector. One strategy used to enrich PUFA composition of beef is to feed untreated wholegrains, as research suggests that the seed coating protects the inner FA contents from hydrogenation (Aldrich
et al 
., 1997; Mach
et al 
., 2006). Others include treatingthe seed with calcium to form saponified products, or with formaldehyde, which preventsmicrobial digestion in the rumen, but is degraded once within the acidic conditions of theabomasum (Philips. 2001). The table below illustrates how varying the diet just slightly, for example by increasing grazing allowance, may resulting in an improved uptake of FAs.
Table 2
. The fatty acid composition of beef in relation to feed type and intake. Courtesy of  
[Accessed 11th February 2007]
Carcass Composition
How a carcass is evaluated depends upon its intended market and the products it will be soldas. Grade, yield grade, and carcass weight are the most important carcass traits (Drake 2004),all of which analyse the relative proportions of lean tissue, bone, and fat and are dependantupon the management of growth and development by the farmer. In order to produce the mosteconomically viable stock, feeding must be tailored to breed characteristics in order to preventexcessive fat deposition. In a study by the National Beef Quality Audit, concerns with regardsto fat deposition were numerous compared to other quality concerns (Smith 1995; Gilbert
et al 
.,2003). It found that feeding protected lipid resulted in augmented levels of fat thickness andtherefore marbling development, dependant upon cattle breed.Breeds which mature early, such as the Dexter and Aberdeen Angus, deposit fat more easilythan those which mature later (such as Holstein/Friesians) and for this reason are usually culledat a younger age (Chapple, 2001). To increase lean tissue mass therefore, a rate of gain of lessthan 0.9kg/day should be provided by a diet of low metabolisable energy (ME), in order toprovide energy for maintenance and slight growth, minimising fat deposition whilst maximisingprotein deposition, and thereby enabling the animal to attain a higher slaughter-weight (Sainzand Paganini, 2004).Intake of energy above maintenance requirements is the most prominent contributor towardsdetrimental lipid accumulation in the carcass and is in fact directly related days on feed. Although one would expect a proportionate increment in weight to result from a diet yielding ahigher ME
, research actually suggests that if this net increase is due to increased levels of PUFAs, carcass weight, dressing percentage, fat thickness, yield grade, and longissimus areaare not negatively affected (Krehbiel
et al 
., 1995). However, marbling scores were found to behigher if cattle were fed sources derived from animal or plant sources. Those derived fromtallow or pure oil, in contrast, are found to reduce marbling (Clary
et al 
., 1993; Andrae
et al 
Effects of Different Sources of Dietary Fat
The most common diet in the UK supplied to beef cattle, and that which is found to be mosteconomical, is composed mainly of grass silage mixed with barley-based concentrates (Nelsonet al., 2004; Greathead
et al 
., 2006). However, research suggests this may not actually be themost appropriate diet for beef production due to is characteristically high fat:protein ratio, lowfeed intake, and net energy yield which result in heightened accretion of carcass fat andlowered quality grading (Steen, 1991). Fat should not be included at levels above 5% DM
dueto marked decreases in fibre and protein digestibility in the rumen, although 7% DM may beingested if fed as wholegrains due to their slower decompositions (Garcia
et al 
., 2003).
Metabolisable energy;
Dry matter 

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