Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Animal Science 1996. 74:1014–1022. Copyright © 1996 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


A 2-yr study was conducted to determine the effect of EPD for marbling on marbling score, palatability traits, and carcass fatness in beef. Steer (n = 122) and heifer (n = 123) carcasses were obtained by mating Angus bulls having a high (>.4) or low (<-.16) EPD for marbling to MARC II cows (¼ Angus, ¼ Hereford, ¼ Simmental, and ¼ Gelbvieh). Carcass traits, composition of primals, quarters, and sides, palatability, and shear force data were obtained and adjusted to the mean number of days on feed, equal marbling score (Small50) , fat thickness (1.0 cm), and carcass weight (318 kg) end points. Steer carcasses from the high marbling EPD group, adjusted to the mean number of days on feed, had significantly more marbling ( P < .01) and less subcutaneous fat in the side and the hindquarter ( P < .10) than their low marbling EPD counterparts. Adjusting steers to Small50 marbling produced smaller longissimus muscle area (by 5 cm2) , less fat thickness (1.15 vs 1.28 cm), and lighter side weights (306 vs 333 kg) for high marbling vs low marbling EPD groups, indicating a faster rate of marbling deposition. Similar relationships of a greater magnitude were found for heifers, perhaps because the heifers were older than the steers at slaughter. No differences in taste panel ratings or shear force values were noted among steer carcasses. Heifer carcasses from the high marbling EPD group had better ( P < .05) ratings for juiciness, muscle fiber tenderness, and overall tenderness than the low marbling EPD group heifers. These results indicate that it is possible, using existing genetic resources, to maintain marbling score and decrease fat in other depots of the carcass without compromising palatability.