Our objective was to examine the effects of bovine growth hormone (bGH) on growth, carcass composition and meat quality of dairy heifers. Nine monozygotic twin pairs of Friesian or Red Danish cattle were used, and pair-fed diet consisting of grass silage, barley and soybean meal. Within each pair, one animal was given daily subcutaneous injections of 20 IU of pituitary-derived bGH (15-20 mg), while the other animal was injected with saline (excipient). Treatments started at 179±2 kg body weight and lasted for 15.6 weeks. At slaughter, carcass composition and meat quality were analyzed. bGH treatment increased gain by 8% (948 vs. 877 g/d; P <0.03). The amount of saleable meat in carcass and lean content of four main carcass cuts were on average increased by 2% (P <0.05). Concomitantly, carcass fat trim was reduced by 12% (P <0.001), fat trim of individual cuts by 4-21% (P <0.05), and kidney fat by 13% (P <0.01). Except for a 20% reduction of intramuscular fat content (P <0.001), meat quality assessed by objective as well as subjective methods was unaffected by bGH treatment. In summary, bGH treatment of dairy heifers around puberty stimulated growth and reduced carcass fattening including intramuscular fat, while eating quality of the meat was unaffected.
Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. Section A. Animal Science, 1993, Vol 43, Issue 3, p. 165-172