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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Beef production systems with dairy x beef heifers based on forage and semi-natural grassland

Hessle, A.; Dahlstrom, F.; Lans, J.; Karlsson, A. H.; Carlsson, A.


Beef production on semi-natural grassland provides meat and nature conservation of biodiverse habitats. In this study, heifers born to a dairy cow and an Angus (ANG) or Charolais (CHA) sire were allocated to a HIGH or LOW production system, varying in indoor feed intensity, number of summers on grass and slaughter age. CHA crosses had higher liveweight gain, conformation score, and proportion of high-value retail cuts than ANG crosses, which had higher scores for fatness and marbling. The LOW system gave lower liveweight gain and carcasses with lower fatness scores than the HIGH system. CHA-LOW had leaner carcasses than the other groups. Per kilogram salable meat produced, ANG-HIGH, CHA-HIGH, ANG-LOW, and CHA-LOW resulted in 18, 15, 58, and 46 m2 grazed semi-natural grassland. These results indicate that dairy x beef heifers can be used for nature conservation grazing of semi-natural grassland while still achieving acceptable performance and market-oriented carcass characteristics.


animal performance; carcass characteristics; feed intensity; grazing; nature conservation; semi-natural pasture

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A - Animal Science