The objective of the study was to assess the impact of sex on the slaughter results and pH of Limousin pure breed bulls and heifers.
The study analysed data of 46 bulls and 79 heifers fattened on different farms in Latvia and Lithuania as part of the Baltic Grassland Beef project and slaughtered between 2018 and 2020, in the slaughterhouse “Agaras” in Lithuania. The average age of the animals at the time of slaughter was 17 months for bulls and 19 months for heifers (p≤0.05), with the average live weight being 526.0 kg and 521.8 kg respectively. Bulls produced heavier carcasses, with cold carcass weight being on average 305.13 kg, which was 8.03 kg more than the outcome from heifers (p≤0.05). Bulls also showed better outcomes for the dressing percentage and conformation, with 58.04% dressing percentage, and 3.74 points for conformation (74% U, 26% R). Dressing percentage for heifers was 56.93%, and conformation evaluation was 3.44 points (46% U, 53% R, 1% O). Conformation evaluation differ substantially between both groups (p≤0.05). Carcasses of heifers were more predominantly evaluated in the 3rd fat class, with the average evaluation being 2.94 points, while carcasses of bulls predominantly were ranked in the 2nd fat class, with the average evaluation being 2.13 points (p≤0.05). The average pH for heifer carcasses was 5.65, but for bulls it was 5.87, thus exceeding the preferred pH threshold of 5.8.
The results of the study lead to a conclusion that Limousine bulls are quicker to achieve higher live weight and cold carcass weight, better dressing percentage and conformation results, compared to heifers. Heifers have slower growth parameters, but their carcases are characterised with better fatness and lower pH, two important parameters in the quality of meat.
The study has been implemented as part of ESF project 126.96.36.199/20/I/001 “Transfer of Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies to a new financing model for its doctoral studies program”.