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Research article2009Peer reviewedOpen access

Influence of carcass suspension on meat quality of Charolais heifers from two sustainable feeding regimes

Ahnstrom, M. L.; Hessle, A.; Johansson, L.; Hunt, M. C.; Lundstrom, K.


This study investigated the effects of pelvic suspension on the meat quality of M. longissimus dorsi, M. semimembranosus and M. adductor from 35 heifers with at least 75% Charolais breeding. Two-thirds of the heifers were slaughtered directly from pasture at 18 months of age and one-third was finished indoors and slaughtered at 22 months. After slaughter and electrical stimulation one side of each carcass was re-suspended by either the achilles tendon or the pelvic bone. Longissimus muscles were aged 7 or 14 days and were then evaluated for drip loss, colour, shear force and sensory analysis. As compared to 18-month-old heifers, 22-month-old heifers were heavier, more muscular and fatter (P < 0.05). Intramuscular fat content increased with slaughter age (P < 0.003). Pelvic suspension reduced longissimus peak force values, total energy, pH and thawing losses (P < 0.05) in heifers slaughtered at 18 months. Semimembranosus showed the largest response to pelvic suspension with significantly lower peak force and total energy values. Finishing for 4 months did not affect longissimus shear forces. Achilles-suspended samples had lower shear force values after 14 v. 7 days of ageing. Pelvic-suspended samples aged 7 days were, however, just as tender as those aged 14 days. Sensory analysis of longissimus samples aged 14 days showed that samples from pelvic-suspended sides had higher tenderness, lower bite resistance, more meaty taste and less visible marbling compared with samples from achilles-suspended carcasses.


beef; pelvic suspension; achilles suspension; tenderness; shear force

Published in

2009, Volume: 3, number: 6, pages: 906-913
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)