Effect of integrated crop-livestock systems in carcass and meat quality of Nellore cattle

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Integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) are strategy to increase productivity and income for the farmers while simultaneously achieving sustainability. However, its effects on the carcass and meat quality of the animals produced in it need to be elucidated. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate carcass and meat characteristics of Nellore cattle finished in ICLS without shade availability (integrated crop-livestock: ICL) and with two tree densities (integrated crop-livestock-forest, ICLF, at 196 trees/ha and 448 trees/ha). The experimental design was in complete blocks, with three treatments (ICL, ICLF-1L and ICLF-3L) and four replicates per treatment, totaling 12 experimental plots. Sixty castrated Nellore cattle of approximately 28 ± 2.81 months of age and mean weight at 385.71 ± 27.17 kg were used. After the slaughter of the animals, 48 samples of the longissimus thoracis muscle were collected for carcass and meat quality analyzes. There were no differences (P > 0.05) between the treatments for the final live weight, contributing to the absence of difference in weight and yield of the hot carcass, forequarter, hindquarter and flank (P > 0.05). Similarly, no differences were found (P > 0.05) between treatments for initial and final ribeye area, initial and final backfat thickness, marbling, pH and glycogen, both measured at 2 h and 24 h post mortem. The proximate composition, cholesterol, pH, cooking loss, shear force, collagen, meat color and microbiological analysis presented no differences (P > 0.05) among the evaluated treatments. In relation to the fatty acids of the meat and the nutritional quality index (NQI), no was observed difference between treatments (P>0.05), but the ω6:ω3 ratio, of the meat of the animals presented values considered healthy for human consumption in all evaluated treatments, characteristic of meat from animals to pasture. Thus, the study concludes that the integration systems that use the tree component do not benefit the quality of the final product, the meat of Nellore cattle, but should be recommended because they do not interfere in quality of the same.




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Livestock Science, v. 220, p. 83-92.

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