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Effects of Stocking Density or Group Size on Intake, Growth, and Meat Quality of Hanwoo Steers (Bos taurus coreanae)

  • Lee, Sang-Moo (Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Kyungpook National University) ;
  • Kim, Jae-Yeon (Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Kyungpook National University) ;
  • Kim, Eun-Joong (Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Kyungpook National University)
  • Received : 2012.05.10
  • Accepted : 2012.06.24
  • Published : 2012.11.01

Abstract

This study was conducted to investigate the effects of stocking density or group size on feed intake, daily gain, and carcass characteristics of Hanwoo (Korean indigenous breed) steers reared from 7 months to 31 months of age. Thirty Hanwoo steers were divided into four groups with three replicates each (a total of 12 pens). In each group, one (G1), two (G2), three (G3), and four steers (G4) per pen were allocated as treatments. Pen size was $32.0m^2$, and therefore Hanwoo steers in G1, G2, G3, and G4 were reared under different space allowances, i.e. 32.0, 16.0, 10.6, and $8.0m^2$/steer, respectively. Steers were reared following a conventional beef cattle management method in Korea, and were offered a fixed amount of commercial concentrate with ad libitum forages. Results were subjected to analysis of variance with stocking density as the main effect, and significance was declared at p<0.05. Although total feed intake was not significantly altered, it numerically increased in animals of low stocking density (G1) compared to those subjected to high stocking density treatment (i.e. G4). Feed conversion ratio was higher (p<0.05) in G3 compared to G1 and G2. Animals in G1 (low stocking density) grew faster (p<0.05) than those of high stocking density (G3 and G4). Back fat thickness, meat yield index, and meat yield grade were similar among all levels of stocking density. However, longissimus muscle area was larger in G1 and G2 (p<0.01) compared to G3 and G4, and animals in G3 produced smaller carcasses (p<0.05). Carcass quality traits, including marbling score, meat color, fat color, texture, maturity and meat quality grade, as determined by a group of experts, were not significantly different among the treatments. In conclusion, lower stocking density resulted in increased feed efficiency, daily gain, and carcass weight in Hanwoo steers. However it remains unclear whether such differences are the results of stocking density or group size, or a combination of both. Nonetheless, these results confirm previous studies reporting a negative effect of increased stocking density on animal productivity. Further, animal welfare under an intensive farming system in relation to economical return is discussed.

Keywords

Stocking Density;Hanwoo;Growth;Meat Quality;Animal Welfare

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