Impact of grass/forage feeding versus grain finishing on beef nutrients and sensory quality: the U.S. experience

Meat Sci. 2014 Jan;96(1):535-40. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.08.010. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Studies of forage and/or grass feeding of cattle versus grain finishing have been conducted in varying regions throughout the world but generalization of these results to beef from U.S. cattle may not be appropriate. In particular, available grass/forage variety and form as well as cattle breed have a significant impact on the nutritional profile of beef. The current review summarizes the nutritional characteristics of beef as reported from the limited number of studies comparing U.S. grass/forage-fed versus grain-finished cattle and estimates the intake of key nutrients that might be expected from consumption of U.S. beef from either feeding system. In addition, many studies report changes in fatty acids solely as a percentage of total fatty acids. Since grass/forage feeding typically results in a leaner product; the current review compares the fatty acid profile of beef from grass/forage feeding to that of grain-finished cattle on a mg/100 g of meat basis.

Keywords: Beef; Fatty acids; Feeding system; Nutrient composition; Omega-3; Saturated fat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Breeding
  • Cattle
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis
  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / analysis
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / analysis
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Poaceae / chemistry*
  • Taste*
  • Trace Elements / analysis
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Vitamin B Complex / analysis


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamin B Complex