Forage Fed Beef – “Healthy CLA beef” A Niche Market for Producers?

The study evaluated the lipid fatty acid profiles of the beef after they were fed four different diets. The cattle were all pasture fed throughout the summer and then slaughtered or placed into the feedlot for finishing for one to three months on several diets. The study used black sunflower seeds (SFS), a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Mir et al. 2000), and L-carnitine (CAR), a vitamin-like compound shown to increase fat deposition and marbling in cattle, (Greenwood et al. 2001) in the experimental diets.Sixty-four steers were selected for the feeding trial that began September 3, 2003. These cattle were backgrounded over winter and grazed on pasture during the summer of 2003. Steers came off pasture September 2, 2003 and a group of 16 were immediately shipped. Carcass data was collected and ribeye samples were obtained to determine the fatty acid profiles and CLA levels in the marbling fat.

The remaining 48 steers received the following four experimental diets: 2 levels of whole sunflower seed (0 or 14% of DM; -SFS & +SFS) and 2 levels of L-carnitine (0 or 230 mg kg-1 DM; -CAR & +CAR). Jugular blood samples were obtained every 14 days. Plasma samples were sent to a private lab in the US for analysis of carnitine concentration and will be analysed for plasma non-esterified fatty acid levels.

The feed intake was measured for each pen every 7 days and body weights were measured every 14 days. At the end of each 28-d period, 16 steers were slaughtered and carcass data and ribeye samples were obtained as indicated above.

Project Contact(s):
Dr. Shannon Scott , Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Research Centre, Brandon, MB. Ph: (204) 578-3605
Fellow researchers, Paul McCaughey and Katherine Buckley, AAFC Brandon Research Centre

Start Date: Spring 2003
Completion Date: 2006
Funding Partners: Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council, the Manitoba Cattle Producers’ Association, the Beef Cattle Research Council, AAFC Matching Investment Initiative, and in-kind contributions from Fraser Ag Services, Lonza Inc., Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives, AAFC and the University of Manitoba Department of Animal Science.
Project Results: Download the Fact Sheet “Beef for the Health Food Market”