Comparison of Limousin with
British, Continental and Tropical breeds in Australia
Comparison of breeds for
Growth carcase and meat traits in the USA
The Limousin breed is being compared with six other breeds at the Meat Animal Research Centre in Nebraska, USA.
Preliminary results for the first calf drop were published in the June 2001 issue of the Journal of Animal Science.
The breeds being compared are Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, Charolais, Simmental, Gelbvieh and Limousin. All of these breeds except Red Angus were originally compared at MARC in 1970-74.
In the current comparison, about 20 sires from each breed are being used, of which about half are sires in the top 50 sires for progeny registrations and the remainder were young unproven sires.
In the 1970 evaluation of Limousin all sires were French Pure but in the current evaluation most of the sires were North American Pure sires.
From the preliminary results Limousin still ranks the highest for dressing percentage and retail yield percentage. Limousin X cattle produced 3.5% more retail product than Hereford, 4.2% more retail product than Angus and 5.3% more retail product than Red Angus. The Limousin crosses produced about one per cent more retail product than the other breeds. The Angus breeds have maintained a clear dominance over Hereford and the European breeds for marbling.
Table 1 Sire Breed Least Squares Means for Estimated Retail Product, Fat Trim, Bone Yields and Shear Force of F1 Steers in Cycle VII of the GPE Programa,b (1999 Calf Crop, 448 days)
b Estimates from wholesale rib dissection prediction equations (Shackelford et al., 1995).
For meat tenderness and sensory characteristics the Limousin breed has lost nothing. Measured by the mechanical shear test Limousin had similar tenderness to the British breeds and Simmental but were clearly ahead of Charolais and Gelbvieh. The sensory taste test panel also ranked Limousin similar to the British breeds and Simmental but clearly superior to Gelbvieh and Charolais for tenderness.
Similar rankings applied for flavour and juiciness. (one more bit of research which shows the minimal effect of marbling on eating quality).
Table 2 Sire Breed Least Squares Means for Meat Tenderness and Sensory Characteristics of Rib Steaks aged 14 days (adjusted to average age at slaughter, 448 days, 1999 Calf Crop)
b Sensory scores: 1 = extremely tough, bland or dry through 8 = extremely tender, intense or juicy.
Whereas the British breeds have lifted their growth rates to be similar to current European breeds, the European breeds have considerably improved calving ease and fertility.
Although based on only the 1999 calf drop the percentage of Limousin cross females reaching puberty by 18 months of age was much higher than in 1970 although still slightly lower than the other breeds. The pregnancy rate when mated as yearlings was also much better than in 1970 and very close to that of the Angus breeds.
Table 3 Sire Breed Least Squares Means for Growth and Puberty Traits of Heifers in Cycle VII of the GPE Program (1999 Calf Crop)
a Estimates for Hereford, Angus and Red Angus were adjusted to the level of heterosis expected in 3-way F1 crosses (estimates of 23.9 lb was added for 400-d weight, and 15.0 lb was added for 550-d weight) to provide for unbiased comparisons to 3-way F1 crosses by Continental sire breeds.
b Frame scores were calculated from height using the equation recommended in Guidelines for Uniform Beef Improvement, Beef Improvement Federation (BIF, 1996).
c Actual age at puberty (ranging from 84 to 100%) and adjusted age at puberty, adjusted to remove bias due to differences in percentage expressing first oestrus when observation of oestrus was discontinued in early May by adding i(s) where i is the expected negative deviation from the true mean in standard deviation (s) units.
These preliminary results suggest that the Limousin breed in the USA has made significant progress in fertility traits while losing very little, if anything, in carcase yield and dressing percentage over the last 30 years.
From Germplasm Evaluation Program Progress Report No. 21 on www.marc.usda.gov under Online Information.
Presented at the International Limousin Conference
Background and Industry Context
This project is part of an overall Co-operative Research Centre breeding strategy to identify, by progeny test, the sires, breeds and crosses of Australian beef cattle best suited to the meat quality specifications of our domestic and export markets.
The experiment used nine sire breeds (Brahman, Santa Gertrudis, Charbray, Belmont Red, Charolais, Limousin, Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn) mated to Brahman cows. Belmont Red is a composite breed derived from Africander, Shorthorn and Hereford.
The offspring from each sire were allocated to finishing on pasture in northern Australia or to feedlots in northern and southern Australia. They were fed to three market end points; Domestic (180 - 260 kg. carcase wt.) Korean Export (220 -280 kg. carcase wt.) and Japanese Export (280 - 400 kg. carcase wt.). Twelve sires per breed were used with a target of 15 progeny per sire. The CRC experiment was designed to achieve these targets over three years of mating. Approximately half the sires were replaced each year to provide links between years and increase calves per sire from some sires.
Cattle targeted for the domestic market were fed for 70 days on a commercial feedlot ration. For the Korean Market they were fed for 100 days and for the Japanese market they were fed for 150 days.
The trial includes a comparison of Limousin X Brahman with pure Brahman and also a comparison of Limousin X Brahman with Charolais X Brahman.
The breeds were compared for a wide range of traits including weights, carcase traits and meat quality traits.
Table 1 shows the effect of sire breed on birthweight, weaning weight and yearling weight.
The Charolais sired calves were heavier at all weights than the other breeds. Limousin X Brahman were 25 kg heavier at yearling age than Brahmans.
Table 2 shows the effect of sire breed on carcase weight, rib eye area, fat depth and retail yield averaged across all market end points.
While Charolais X Brahman had slightly heavier carcases than Limousin X Brahman the Limousin X Brahman had the highest weight of retail cuts due to their higher percentage yield
Table 2. Carcase results for sires progeny retail Yield (kg)
Table 3 shows the effects of sire breed on measures of meat quality in steers.
Limousin X Brahman cattle had the lowest levels of intra muscular fat percentage (IMF%), were intermediate for cooking loss (%) and ultimate pH. They were low for peak force and instron compression which both indicate greater tenderness.
Limousin X Brahman were slightly better than Charolais X Brahman for all objective meat quality measurements except IMF%. They were significantly better than purebred Brahmans for all objective meat quality measurements except IMF%.
To test the objective measurements of eating quality a striplion sample from each animal was tested by untrained consumer panels.
Breed effects on the eating quality (MQ4) scores are shown in figure 1. The MQ4 score was made up of tenderness x 0.4 + flavour x 0.2 + juiciness x 0.1 + over all acceptance x 0.3.
Angus X Brahman carcases were assessed to have the highest eating quality. Limousin X Brahman had similar eating quality to all other breeds except Brahman which had substantially lower eating quality.
It is clear from these results that marbling has little impact on objective measures of tenderness or eating quality as assessed by Australian consumers.
The eating quality of Brahman cattle is substantially improved by crossing with Limousin.
These results were extracted from "Producing and Processing Quality Beef from Australian Cattle Herds" 2000 edited by P Dundon, B Sundstrom and R Gaden. The complete paper is available from Alex McDonald, PO Box 262, Armidale NSW 2350, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authors I.B. Mandell, E.A. Gullett , J.W. Wilton, O.B. Allen and V.R. Osborne
Source Can. J. Anim. Sci. (1997) 77:23-32
Abstract: Ninety-six Charolais and Limousin steers were used to evaluate 75% grain (whole barley or corn) diets and two slaughter endpoints (7 mm backfat or 568 kg liveweight) in an experiment designed to constrain carcass weights to under approximately 341 kg yet produce optimal beef quality. Each breed was represented by eight progeny from each of six sires. The trial was terminated after 281 d feeding regardless of individual steers attaining designated slaughter endpoints. Limited availability of dietary energy in whole-barley diets resulted in decreased (P<0.01) average daily gain and increased (P<0.01) dry matter intake, feed/gain and days on feed for barley- vs. corn-fed cattle. Charolais outgained (P<0.05) Limousin but dry matter intake was similar.on a g BW0.75 basis. Feeding to 568 kg liveweight was associated with high (P<0. 10) ADG and decreased (P<0.05) feed/gain compared with feeding to 7 mm. Corn feeding increased (P<0.001) carcass weights, fat deposition and longissimus muscle area. Lean deposition was greater (P<0.01) in Limousin than Charolais. Taste panel assessment of tenderness, flavour and juiciness in longissimus muscle was generally not affected (P>0.10) by diet, breed or slaughter endpoint. Twelve primal ribs from each of Agriculture Canada's marbling classifications (A, AA, AAA) were purchased and processed identically to ribs from the test cattle. Shear and tenderness scores were similar (P>0.10) across test cattle and purchased ribs, despite intramuscular fat contents of 20.2, 27.1, 3 5.6 and 49.7 g kg- 1, respectively, for test cattle and trace, slight and small marbled ribs. Slight and small marbled ribs did have higher (P<0.05) taste panel scores for initial juiciness and flavour than ribs from the test cattle. While 26% of carcasses from test cattle graded Canada B I due to either inadequate finish or marbling, similar tenderness and shear scores were probably due to age of test cattle at slaughter which averaged 481+45 d plus the fact that all roasts were aged 7 d prior to freezing.
Presented at the International Limousin Conference, France, September 2000
by Anton Birk Jensen, Secretary of the Danish Limousin Association
In Denmark, suckler cows used to be fed according to the standards laid down for dairy cows. Based on information retrievals in the 1990s the energy standards for suckler cows were adjusted and the feed intake capacity of suckler cows was laid down. These standards applying to both suckler cows and young animals stipulate the same needs and intake capacities irrespective of beef breed even though the breeds probably differ.
It was also important to study how the different types and breeds of suckler cows manage under different environmental conditions, e.g. feed level which may be due to varying amounts of grass.
To study how the production results of different breeds depend on feed quality, an experiment was conducted, involving Herefords, Simmentals and Limousins. For this experiment a number of heifer calves were purchased at the age of 6 months, evenly distributed on Limousins, Herefords and Simmentals. These three breeds each represent a beef cattle type and it is assumed that results, applying to e.g. Herefords, also apply to other British breeds.
Broadly, the three breeds represent the following traits: hardiness, mothering instincts and production results.
During the experiment the animals were fed two types of feed - one type contained much straw, i.e. a low-energy diet and the other type contained less straw and included rapeseed cake, i.e. a high-energy diet. All animals were fed ad lib. During the drying period all animals were fed the same type of feed. To simulate a grazing situation the calves were fed the same types of feed as their mothers but from a separate feeder in order that the feed intake of each individual animal in the experiment could be measured.
Each cow and calf were housed in the same box with partly deep litter. The calf was weaned at the age of 6 months and then left the experiment. During the suckling period the cow's milk production was measured once a month by means of machine milking. Both cow and calf were weighed every month.
The experiment showed that all cows irrespective of breed ate more of the high-energy diet than of the low-energy diet - measured in both Scandinavian feed units (SFU) and kg feed. This had the effect that the cows on the high-energy diet grew heavier during the experiment whereas the weights of the cows on the low-energy diet remained unchanged even if they were first calvers and should have been putting on weight. The measurements of degree of fatness (determination of body condition) showed that the cows on the high-energy diet had an almost unchanged degree of fatness during the whole experiment whereas the cows on the low-energy diet got thinner. These results are also shown in the table. There was generally no difference in the weights of the individual breeds, except that Herefords grew somewhat heavier in the second lactation compared to the two other breeds.
The milk yield of the cows varied a lot from one breed to another, see figure 1.
Fed the high-energy diet, the Simmental cows not surprisingly produced the highest milk yield whereas Herefords and Limousins did not differ much. The yields of the three breeds were almost identical when the cows were fed the low-energy diet. For the Limousin cows the difference between high- and low-energy diets was not significant. This means that Simmental cows produce large amounts of milk if they get ample amounts of good quality feed whereas Limousin cows do not produce more milk even if they get better feed. On the other hand, Limousin milk is more concentrated than both Hereford and Simmental milk, no matter whether they are fed high-energy or low-energy rations.
The intake of the calves differed as well, depending on whether they were fed high- or low-energy diets, see figure 2.
Both Simmental and Hereford calves ate much more of the high-energy diet than of the low-energy diet whereas the difference was smaller for Limousins. All the calves irrespective of breed ate very little of the low-energy diet which is probably due to the fact that the feed was very rough so the calves could not digest it.
The growth rates of the calves differed both as regards breed and type of feed, see figure 3.
Due to the high milk yields of the Simmental cows and their calves' relatively large feed intake the Simmental calves also had high growth rates relative to both Herefords and Limousins. There was no difference between the performance of the Limousins on high-energy and low-energy diets because the cows yielded largely the same amount of milk irrespective of feed type.
Based on this experiment it can be concluded that Simmental cows pay for good-quality feed by ample amounts of milk and thus calves with high growth rates. On the other hand, it does not pay to give Limousin cows high-quality feed if looking exclusively at milk yield because this is nearly constant, irrespective of feed type. It is to be expected, however, that the growth rates of Limousin calves will improve considerably if they are fed an high-energy calf mix. Hereford comes in between the two other breeds as regards both milk yield and growth rate of calves.
Net weight gain and carcass quality
All cattle in Denmark are registered in the official national cattle database. All Danish slaughterhouses return data on carcass quality (EUROP scale), shape, colour etc. for each individual animal. Based on birth date, carcass data and carcass weight the net weight gain of the individual animal is calculated.
The following table shows the results of the last four years for the three beef breeds which have most purebred animals and from which most semen is used for crossing on dairy cows.
Classification and net weight gain of purebred animals
Classification and net weight gain of dairy crosses
* Belgian Blues
It is gratifying to see that in recent years the results of especially the Limousin breed have improved as regards classification and net weight gain for both purebred Limousins and dairy crosses where Limousin has been used as sire breed.
Anton Birk Jensen
The Danish Limousin Association
Authors: K.E. GregorT, L.V. Cundiff, and R.M. Koch.
Source: Journal of Animal Science. 1994. 72:1138-1154.
Abstract: Breed effects were evaluated in nine parental breeds (Red Poll, Hereford, Angus, Limousin, Braunvieh, Pinzgauer, Gelbvieh, Simmental and Charolais). Gain efficiency was evaluated in time constant (0 to 207 d), gain constant (310 to 540 kg), carcass weight constant (333 kg), and retail product weight constant (225 and 210 kg) end points and to different marbling score and longissimus muscle fat end points. Significant differences were observed among breeds in all measures of gain efficiency. Key points related to Limousin include:
Authors: K.E. Gregory, L.V. Cundiff, R.M. Koch, M.E. Dikeman, and M. Koohmaraie.
Source: Journal of Animal Science. 1994. 72:833-850.
Abstract: Breed effects were evaluated in nine parental breeds (Red Poll, Hereford, Angus, Limousin, Braunvieh, Pinzgauer, Gelbvieh, Simmental and Charolais). Breed effects were significant for carcass weight, dressing percentage, fat thickness and marbling score; for retail product, fat trim (8 and 0 mm); and for carcass lean, fat and bone percentages and weights at two levels of fat trim (8 and 0 mm); and for carcass lean, fat and bone percentages and weights (see attached tables). Key points related to Limousin included:
c Copyright International Limousin Council.