Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm

Extension Number

RFR A1284

Publication Date



Consumer interest in the potential benefits of grass-finished beef is high, but adoption of this approach to cattle feeding has been limited in Iowa. Although some producers successfully meet this niche market demand, consistently producing a high-value carcass from forage-fed cattle is challenging. Intramuscular fat or marbling is a major factor in quality grading of beef. Marbling is heavily influenced by cattle genetics and energy concentration of the diet. Finishing cattle on grain is a proven approach to consistently produce a high-value carcass for the commodity beef market. Researchers at Iowa State University have pioneered the use of ultrasound measurements to select Angus cattle with high-marbling potential. Forage quality can be manipulated through pasture management, ultimately influencing cattle growth and performance. It is hypothesized that grass-finished cattle will consistently produce high value carcasses if excellent pasture management is combined with combining high-marbling genetics.

Copyright Owner

Iowa State University



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