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The use of biochemical measurements to identify pre-slaughter stress in pasture finished beef cattle

Loudon, K.M.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-5506-5480, Tarr, G., Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677, Lean, I.J., Polkinghorne, R., Mason, M., Dunshea, F.R., Gardner, G.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-7499-9986 and McGilchrist, P. (2019) The use of biochemical measurements to identify pre-slaughter stress in pasture finished beef cattle. Animals, 9 (8). Article 503.

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This study considered the relationship between pre-slaughter stressors and plasma biomarkers in 488 pasture-raised cattle across two experiments. The design aimed to test groups consisting of steer only, heifer only, and mixed sex cattle under direct kill versus rested (14 days in abattoir holding paddocks) protocols. In Experiment One, cattle were sourced from four farms, and transported by trucks and ships on the same day. In Experiment Two, cattle were sourced from four farms where a comparison was made between marketing via two commercial saleyards or direct farm gate consignment to abattoir. Blood samples were collected at exsanguination for subsequent analyses and relation to meat quality attributes. Muscle damage, as indicated by creatine kinase, is the biomarker most correlated to ultimate pH and muscle glycogen concentrations. A two-week rest period is effective for lowering this enzyme and improving muscle glycogen concentration. Although the cattle was subjected to a range of stress inducing treatments, we found that plasma biomarkers alone appeared insufficient for use as diagnostic stress indicators.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2019 by the authors
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