Weight gain, grazing behavior and carcass quality of desert grass-fed Rarámuri Criollo vs. crossbred steers

TitleWeight gain, grazing behavior and carcass quality of desert grass-fed Rarámuri Criollo vs. crossbred steers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMcIntosh MM, Cibils AF, Estell RE, Nyamuryekung'e S., Gonzalez AL, Gong Q, Cao H, Spiegal S., Soto-Navarro S., D.Blair A
JournalLivestock Science
Date Published10 April 2021
ARIS Log Number382714
Keywordsbeef cattle, climate change, Grass finished steers, Grass-fed supply-chain, Heritage genetics, livestock behavior

Rarámuri Criollo cattle producers often crossbreed their cows with improved beef-breed bulls and/or retain and develop their yearlings on rangeland because of limited weaned calf markets, however it is unknown if Rarámuri Criollo steers exhibit marketable weight gains and carcass qualities, or desirable grazing behaviors documented in cows of this biotype. We evaluated two cohorts (cohort: 1 = 31, 2 = 26) of Rarámuri Criollo (JRC), Mexican Criollo (MC) and Criollo × beef-breed crossbred (XC) steers to investigate effects of biotype on growth, carcass traits, and landscape utilization. Steers were weighed approximately once every 2-mo and average daily gains (ADG) calculated. Nine JRC and XC steers per cohort were monitored at 5-min intervals via global positioning systems (GPS) for 1-mo during winter (2015–16) and late-summer (2016–17). Weight and carcass data were analyzed using mixed measures procedures to identify differences between biotype through time. Discriminant analyses were conducted to determine whether grazing behaviors could be discriminated among: 1) JRC and XC steers and JRC cows; 2) steers by season (winter vs. summer); and 3) steers of cohort 1 and 2. Final live and carcass weights of XC were greater than JRC and MC, but all were market ready at 30-mo following a grass-finishing protocol. Carcass quality and ADG were not different among biotypes. Steers were discriminated into different season or cohort groups based on grazing behavior differences but JRC and XC steers exhibited grazing patterns that were similar to those previously observed in JRC cows. Our results suggest that JRC, MC, and XC steers can be developed to slaughter weights in 30-mo using a rangeland-based grass-fed protocol, and that JRC and XC steers exhibit desirable grazing behaviors previously observed in JRC cows.