This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Carcass and Growth Characteristics and Consumer Acceptance of Grain vs. Forage Finishing of Standard and Miniature Cattle of the Same Age




Welch, Tabitha

Type of Degree



Animal Sciences


Crossbred standard cattle (STD, n=7) and crossbred miniature cattle (MINI, n=7) were raised on grain and forage finishing systems to determine the differences in growth performance, carcass characteristics, and retail yield performance. While on feed, cattle weights were collected approximately every 28 days. Once an average back fat of 0.76 cm was reached, as determined by real time ultrasound, cattle were humanely harvested. After chilling for 24 hours, carcass characteristics were evaluated. Consumers (n=196) from the southeastern United States were surveyed at an annual event, the Ag Roundup, at Auburn University, AL for preferences in beef. Consumers were presented with 7 packages of T-bone steaks (1 steak per package) that had information cards displaying five different attributes (portion size, grain- or grass-fed, price, traceability, and region of origin). They were asked to complete a written survey. Results indicate standard cattle finished on grain or forage diets had greater growth performance, carcass characteristics, and retail yield performance when compared to miniature cattle raised under the same conditions. Similarly, cattle finished on grain diets had greater growth performance and carcass characteristics than those finished on forage diets. The results of the consumer portion demonstrate that the majority of consumers do not prefer to purchase beef steaks from miniature cattle versus standard cattle of the same age finished on both grain and forage resources. However, most participants believe it is important to limit the size of steak they eat, and were not opposed to consuming small sized beef steaks from miniature cattle.