Animal Science, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Animal (2015), 9:8, pp 1414–1422 © The Animal Consortium 2015 doi:10.1017/S1751731115000427




The aim of this study was to evaluate the carcass and meat characteristics of eight muscles from bulls with distinct growth paths. A total of 40 Alentejana male calves were allocated to two distinct feeding regimes. In the continuous growth (CG) system, the animals were fed concentrates plus hay and were slaughtered at 18 months of age. On the other hand, in the discontinuous growth (DG) system, the animals were fed hay until 15 months of age; the cattle were then fed the same diet provided to the CG group from 15 to 24 months of age. The DG reduced hot carcass weight, fatness and dressing %, but the proportions of fat, bone and muscle tissues in the leg were not affected. In contrast, there was a positive impact of compensatory growth on supraspinatus, triceps brachii, semitendinosus, biceps femoris muscle tenderness, overcoming the negative effects of age at slaughter. The reasons for such improvement in meat tenderness were not related to intra-muscular fat content or myofibrillar protein degradation values. An association between tenderness and muscle collagen properties was not established. The results indicate that the compensatory growth has a muscle-dependent effect.