Enhancing sustainability and profitability of tropically adapted beef cattle utilizing a novel skeletal muscle energetics approach
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Our goal is to improve the economic value of tropically adapted beef calves by early identification of biomarkers of muscle energetics predictive of beef product quality. We hypothesize that skeletal muscle mitochondria play a key in vivo role affecting post-harvest meat quality, and that mitochondrial profiles are the link between temperament and poor meat quality in Bos indicus (Brahman) and Bos taurus (Angus) steers. This hypothesis will be tested in the following two objectives: 1) characterize the relationship between temperament and skeletal muscle mitochondrial measures in Brahman and Angus steers at key points in the production cycle, and 2) determine the relationship between live animal mitochondrial measures and product quality at slaughter. We expect calm animals with elevated feed efficiency and superior product quality at harvest to have increased capacity for mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation with low excess electron transport system capacity. Accomplishing the project's objectives will establish whether the measurement of muscle energetics in feeder steers is consistent during aging of the animal and predictive of beef product quality. Results of this study will benefit producers in two significant ways: 1) mitochondrial measures collected early in life will guide management decisions to enhance economic profitability, and 2) mitochondrial characterization of live animal skeletal muscle, and determination of relationships between mitochondria and a) meat quality and b) temperament will begin to define variation in meat products entering post-harvest systems. This will provide the impetus for future determination of optimal animal handling practices to enhance individual animal product quality.