Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

W. Habermann, K. Luger, J. Frickh, W. Zollitsch and F. Lettner:

Is the fattening of cull cows worth while? Analysis of feeding regimen, meat quality and profitability


An experiment was conducted to evaluate the optimum feeding regimen for maximum weight gain, carcass characteristics and economic Performance as well as meat quality of culled cows. The experimental design consisted of three groups of 15 Simmental cows each: The cows in group 1, the control group, were slaughtered immediately, group 2 was fed corn Silage, hay (or straw) and a protein concentrate; group 3's diet consisted of the same feedstuffs plus 2 kg of corn.

Daily dry matter intake from corn silage and daily weight gain were higher for group 2 than group 3 (10.9 kg and 9.7 kg, 1382 g and 1238 g respectively), although the difference in weight gain was not significant. In comparison to group 1, dressing percentage was significantly improved by 3.8 % and 4.6 % for groups 2 and 3, respectively. The meat of culled cows which were fattened prior to slaughter showed a significantly lower shearing force (45.8 N, 33.5 N, and 34.0 N for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively). The same trend was found in the organoleptic evaluation: juiciness, tenderness, flavour and total judgement were better for group 2 for groups 1 and 3, with the results for group 2 and 3 matching the requirements for premium quality beef.

It is concluded hat fattening culled cows under a feeding regimen as represented by group 2 of this experiment significantly improves the most relevant traits of carcass and meat quality. The economic evaluation for the fattening of culled cows showed positive results.

Key words: Cull cow, fattening, feeding, meat quality.