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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Carcass characteristics of Nordic native cattle breeds

Therkildsen, Margrethe; Vestergaard, Mogens; Kargo, Morten; et al.


Native livestock breeds are part of the history of the Nordic people and comprise a resource for future foodproduction. In this study, net gain and carcass characteristics of two Danish, three Finnish, one Icelandic, six Norwegian andfive Swedish native cattle breeds were retrieved and compared to commercial breeds: two beef breeds and two dairy breeds.Breed data were collected from national databases and sorted into six animal categories: young bull, bull, steer, heifer, youngcow and cow, for which means and standard deviations were calculated within each country. The native breeds ranged fromsmall-sized milking type breeds with low net gain, carcass weights and EUROP classification to larger multipurpose breedswith high net gains, carcass weights and EUROP classification.All Finnish and most of the Norwegian and Swedish native breeds had lower net gain and carcass weight than the dairy breedsin the same category and country, but with similar carcass conformation and fatness scores. The two Danish native breedshad higher net gain, carcass weight and conformation class than the reference dairy breed, but lower than the reference beefbreeds. The net gain and carcass traits of the Icelandic native breed were similar to the smallest-sized native breeds fromthe other countries. The carcass traits of the native breeds indicate that they have comparative advantages in an extensiveproduction system based on forage and marginal grasslands. They may also succeed better in the value-added markets thanin mainstream beef production.


Native cattle breeds; genetic resources; weight gain; carcass conformation; carcass fatness; carcass weight,; meat production; cattle production; slaughter categories

Published in

Genetic resources
2023, Volume: 4, number: 7, pages: 1-19