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Growth, development and nutritional manipulation of marbling in cattle: a review

Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677, Harper, G.S. and Oddy, V.H. (2004) Growth, development and nutritional manipulation of marbling in cattle: a review. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 44 (7). pp. 705-715.

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This review describes the pattern of intramuscular fat accretion in cattle and the potential for its manipulation during both the pasture (or backgrounding) and intensive grain-finishing phases of development. A growth curve for the development of marbling in British and Japanese Black type breeds is discussed with the conclusion that 3 phases of development exist: (i) a period of growth up to ∼200 kg hot carcass weight where intramuscular fat does not increase; (ii) a period of linear development as carcass weight increases from 200 to 450 kg; and (iii) the attainment of mature body size (∼500 kg carcass weight depending on genotype) at which intramuscular fat content appears to reachea maximum. Data are also presented to show that the intramuscular and other fat depots develop at similar rates indicating that intramuscular fat is not a late maturing depot. Pre-finishing growth checks reduce the initial intramuscular fat at the start of finishing and this is translated into lower levels at the end of finishing. It is argued that the greatest potential for the manipulation of intramuscular fat accretion during fattening is via an increase in the net energy of the ration. Increasing net energy can be achieved by increasing the cereal grain content of the diet (grain v. grass); by feeding processed cereal grain, which allows both maximal rumen fermentation and small intestinal digestion of starch, and by increasing the lipid content of the diet. In addition it is proposed that the substrate supply or hormonal milieu can also be optimised, along with the availability of net energy to maximise fat accretion. The role of lipolysis (fat turnover) as a regulator of fat accretion is also discussed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
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