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The time required for recovery from mixing stress in young bulls and the prevention of dark cutting beef

Meat Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0309-1740(84)90031-7


Abstract Two trials were conducted in which a total of twenty-eight Friesian bulls (12 months old) were slaughtered 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 or 10 days after they had been mixed with unfamiliar animals overnight. The resulting behavioural interactions and associated physical activity led to large rises in plasma creatine phosphokinase (CPK) activity and free fatty acid (FFA) concentration and a decrease in plasma lactate. In the second trial the relative number of interactions engaged in by each animal was estimated. Bulls which exhibited the most interactions had the highest levels of plasma CPK and FFA after mixing. Liver and muscle glycogen were depleted by mixing. Animals killed on days 0 and 1 after mixing had low concentrations of liver glycogen compared with animals allowed longer to recover. Concentrations of glycogen in the M. longissimus dorsi (LD) had recovered by day 4 and in the M. psoas by day 2. Muscle glycogen concentrations were reflected in the ultimate pH (pHu) of the meat. All animals killed immediately after mixing produced carcasses with pHu>6. in the LD. By the second day of recovery muscle glycogen stores had been repleted sufficiently so that all animals had muscles with pHu<6. However, the LD from these animals was still very slightly darker than those killed after 7 or more days of recovery although this was probably not commercially significant. It was concluded that, if young bulls from separate rearing groups are mixed before slaughter, either on the farm or during lairage, then they require resting with food for at least 48 h before being killed to ensure that no carcasses are produced with high pHu in the musculature.

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