A trial was carried out on double-muscled Piemontese bulls to evaluate the effects of two rations differing in crude protein density (HP=14.5% DM and LP=10.8% DM) and top dressed or not with 80 g/d of rumen protected CLA (rpCLA) for a long period (336 d) on meat quality traits and CLA content. Forty-eight bulls were fed one of the four experimental diets based on corn silage and cereals and were slaughtered at an average age and body weight (BW) of 562 ± 18 d and 668 ± 56 kg, respectively. After slaughter the 5th rib cut was dissected into Longissimus thoracis (LT), other muscles (OM), inter-muscular fat (IF), cover fat (CF), and bones. Muscles and fatty tissues were analyzed for proximate composition and fatty acid (FA) profiles. Rib was composed by 81.1, 3.7, 1.6 and 13.6% of muscles, IF, FC and bone, respectively; LT and OM contained only 0.8 and 1.4% of lipid, respectively. The treatments did not influence these values, but rpCLA increased, compared to control, both c9,t11-CLA and t10,c12-CLA concentrations in all the tissues (P<0.01); t10,c12-CLA concentration was increased much more in muscles (+20 times) than in fatty tissues (from +0.2 to +0.9 times). This suggests that in the muscle this isomer is preferentially stored and/or less combusted with respect to other fatty acids. Low protein rations did not exert any influence on carcass and meat quality, as on growth performance, but reduced nitrogen excretion, their use for improving the environmental impact (process quality) of this meat production system is recommended.
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