The effects of bioregions in the semi-arid parts of Southern Africa on growth, size and reproduction efficiency of Bonsmara cows are investigated. The regional distribution of cattle influences the growth, size and reproduction efficiency of cows, and provides evidence for an optimal cow size for different bioregions. Effects of bioregion on growth and reproduction of extensive beef cattle is complex, because the proportion of variation in growth traits explained by bioregion, depends on the physiological stages of growth, e.g., birth, weaning, 12- or 18-month growth stages. For production efficiency, weaning- and yearling weights as well as age at first calving (AFC) and reproduction index (RI) were influenced most by bioregion. Management practices, such as livestock recording and improvement strategies, and better nutrition at weaning and yearling age, limit the negative effects of bioregion on cow growth and size. Genetic trends indicate that the efficiency of growth improved, but was associated with a decline in reproductive characteristics. Indiscriminate selection for growth traits in cattle adversely affects reproduction. The current data indicate that cows of medium size had the best reproduction rates. Acceptable reproduction of larger cows can be achieved with improved management and strategic feed supplementation, although more costly.
Part of the book: Ruminants
Red meats are often criticized as unhealthy based on their perceived high-fat content and saturated fatty acid composition. Uncertainties about the fatty acid composition and trans-fatty acid contents may discourage consumers to eat red meat, especially those living with non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and obesity (e.g. the metabolic syndrome). Previous studies have investigated the factors that influence the fat content and fatty acid composition of red meats, including the effects of species, age, nutrition, sex, production systems and growth promotants in animals, but the trans-fatty acid content of red meat has not been well studied to date. The purpose of this chapter is to review the fat content and fatty acid composition of red meats, with specific reference to its cis/trans-fatty acid content. Representative samples of beef sirloin steaks (n = 60) and lamb loin chops (n = 80) (the lumbar part of the longissimus dorsi muscle) were collected from carcasses from several randomly selected abattoirs in the Gauteng region of South Africa for proximate and fatty acid analyses. Results from this study confirm that the intramuscular fat content of red meats is low compared to most fat-containing processed foods. The lean component of beef and lamb contain a trivial proportion of TFA’s, consisting of vaccenic acid, rumenic acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers. The CLA’s in red meat are beneficial due to their antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties, so they should not strictly be considered in the TFA definition. This means that the TFA’s in red meats are negligible and pose no harm to human health. Labelling of red meats should be improved to convey this information to consumers.
Part of the book: Meat and Nutrition