Does breed have an effect on the sensory quality of beef from young bulls?

Within the framework of the European consortium GemQual, 436 young cattle from 15 different cattle breeds were reared in similar livestock systems in order to assess the impact of the breed on beef sensory quality determined by sensory analysis. A comparison of two statistical methods to process sensory analysis data was first performed. The analysis of variance with or without a panelist effect led to similar results indicating that this methodological choice is not decisive for the interpretation of the results. An unsupervised classification (hierarchical ascending classification) then made it possible to group the breeds according to three sensory profiles on the basis of 4 descriptors (tenderness, juiciness, intensity of flavor and abnormal flavor). This highlights five breed associations.
- The Aberdeen Angus, Highland and Jersey breeds, which have a high fat content in the studied muscle (Longissimus thoracis), were distinguished from the other breeds by a higher beef flavor.
- The mixed and hardy breeds, Simmental, Casina and Marchigiana, produced meat that was significantly less juicy and less tender than that of the breeds selected for meat production.
The following three other associations bring together:
- the Limousin and Charolais breeds whose profile seems quite similar:
- the Pirenaica and Avilena breeds highly appreciated by the panelists since they produce tender beef,
- the Asturiana de los Valles and Piemontaise breeds characterized by a more intense abnormal flavour.
Overall, despite significant differences in animal, carcass and muscle characteristics, differences in sensory quality between most breeds were small, with only significant differences between the few breeds that exhibited extreme sensory profiles. (such as Simmental and Pirenaica).