Meat quality was defined to include only visual and eating quality traits of beef. Visual quality traits included in the discussion were intramuscular fat content (marbling), lean colour, fat colour, and muscle texture. Eating quality traits considered were tenderness, juiciness and flavour. Marbling score varies significantly among breeds and was moderately to highly heritable. Lean colour differences were partly associated with differences in percentages of muscle fiber types. Heritability of lean colour was moderate. Muscle texture breed differences and within breed variation reported in the literature were significant but to small to be of practical importance. Bos indicus breeds were least tender and more variable in tenderness scores. Double-muscled breeds tended to be most tender. Heritability estimates for tenderness were quite variable but tend towards being less than 0.3. Tenderness score is a complex trait that is largely influenced by non-genetic factors. Estimates of genetic effects on flavour and juiciness were inconsistent but indicated potential breed differences. Interest in genetic improvement of meat quality traits has increased in the last few years because of consumer demands for a tender, lean, consistent and high quality product. However, little research has been conducted on the economic value of meat quality traits from a selection point of view and many of the genetic and phenotypic parameters among meat quality, carcass composition and production are either unestimated or poorly estimated. Potential negative consequences of selection for meat quality traits need to be carefully considered before being included in breed improvement programs. Further characterization of breeds for meat quality and other important traits as well as monitoring of meat quality traits in current breed improvement programs is recommended.

R. A Kemp

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 19. Selection and quantitative genetics; growth; reproduction; lactation; fish; fiber; meat., , 439–445, 1994
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