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Shorthorn Marbling: A Key Factor for Beef Quality

Shorthorn cattle are known for their ability to produce high-quality beef with excellent marbling and tenderness. Marbling is the term used to describe the intramuscular fat that gives beef its flavour, juiciness and tenderness. The more marbling a beef cut has, the higher the quality grade it receives.

Shorthorn cattle have a genetic advantage for marbling, as they inherit two copies of the gene that regulates fat deposition in muscle tissue. This gene, called FASN, is responsible for the synthesis of fatty acids that form the marbling fat. Shorthorn cattle have a higher frequency of the favourable allele of this gene than other breeds, which means they can produce more marbling fat with less feed intake.

Shorthorn cattle also have a favourable distribution of marbling fat within the muscle fibres, which enhances the eating quality of the beef. The marbling fat in Shorthorn beef is more evenly dispersed and smaller in size than in other breeds, which makes it more palatable and tender.

The marbling performance of Shorthorn cattle can be measured by several indicators, such as marbling score, marbling percentage and marbling EPD. Marbling score is a visual assessment of the amount and distribution of marbling fat in the ribeye area. The marbling score is determined through ultrasound. Marbling percentage is the proportion of marbling fat to lean tissue in the ribeye area. Marbling EPD is an estimate of the genetic potential of an animal to produce offspring with high marbling. The EPD's can be gathered from carcass information or more commonly through ultrasound done by a technician certified by the CUP Lab. The technician sends the images then they are read, processed and submitted to the breed association by the Cup Lab,

Shorthorn cattle are known for their ability to produce high-quality beef with excellent marbling. Marbling is the intramuscular fat that gives beef its flavour, juiciness, and tenderness. Shorthorn marbling is better than Angus marbling because it is more evenly distributed throughout the muscle, resulting in a more consistent eating experience. Shorthorn marbling also has a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, which are healthier for consumers and have a lower melting point, enhancing the palatability of the beef. According to a study by the Meat Animal Research Centre (MARC), Shorthorn cattle had a higher percentage of USDA Choice carcasses (78%) than Angus cattle (75.5%), while having a lower average yield grade (2.1 vs 2.7), indicating less external fat. Shorthorn cattle also complement marbling on any breed, as they can improve the carcass quality of crossbred offspring without compromising growth or maternal traits. Therefore, Shorthorn marbling is superior to Angus marbling in terms of quality, quantity, and versatility.

Shorthorn marbling is a key factor for beef quality that sets this breed apart from others. By selecting and breeding Shorthorn cattle with high marbling potential, producers can enhance their herd performance and meet the growing demand for premium beef products.

The FASN gene marbling is the term used to describe the effect of the FASN gene on the fatty acid composition and quality of beef. The FASN gene encodes fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of long-chain fatty acids from acetyl-CoA and malonyl-CoA. Fatty acids are important components of intramuscular fat, or marbling, which gives beef its flavor, juiciness, and tenderness. Different variants of the FASN gene can affect the amount and type of fatty acids produced by the enzyme, and thus influence the marbling score and grade of beef. For example, some SNPs in the FASN gene are associated with higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid, which are beneficial for human health and palatability. Other SNPs are associated with lower levels of saturated fatty acids, such as myristic acid and palmitic acid, which are detrimental for cardiovascular health and flavour. Therefore, the FASN gene marbling is a genetic factor that can be used to improve the quality and value of beef. For more information


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