Changes in Cattle Husbandry Excerpt
Since their initial domestication, almost 800 breeds of cattle have been developed as specific traits (milk production, meat, heat tolerance, behavior etc.) were selected by humans overseeing breeding and reproduction. Throughout most of recorded history, cattle were typically fed by providing them free access to pastures, grasslands and range land.2 Only in the past 150-200 years have these animal husbandry practices substantially changed…
Technological developments of the early and mid 19th century such as the steam engine, mechanical reaper, and railroads allowed for increased grain harvests and efficient transport of both grain and cattle, which in turn spawned the practice of feeding grain (corn primarily) to cattle sequestered in feedlots. In the U.S., prior to 1850 virtually all cattle were free range or pasture fed and typically slaughtered at 4- 5 years of age. By about 1885, the science of rapidly fattening cattle in feedlots had advanced to the point where it was possible to produce a 545 kg steer ready for slaughter in 24 months and which exhibited “marbled meat”. Wild animals and free ranging or pasture fed cattle rarely display this trait. Marbled meat results from excessive triacylglycerol accumulation in muscle interfascicular adipocytes. Such meat typically has greatly increased total and saturated fatty acid contents, reduced protein (by energy), a lower proportion of omega-3 fatty acids, higher omega-6 fatty acids and a higher omega-6/omega-63 fatty acid ratio.
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