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Finishing of dairy cull cows. Review

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Authors: E. Serrano
Issue: 112-2 (162-184)
Topic: Animal Production
Keywords: cull cows, fattening, carcass quality, meat quality, Holstein/Friesian

The objective of finishing a cull cow is to increase its carcass weight and fat content. Body weight increase is relatively constant due to muscle growth, and after 30 days of finishing, most of the weight increase is mainly due to fat deposition. Daily weight gain and feed conversion efficiency decrease over time, and their evolution depend on breed, age and initial body condition score. Diet, age, length of the finishing period and body condition score at slaughter, the occurrence of a restricted feeding period, daily weight gain and carcass management (electrical stimulation, cooling procedure, suspension system, ageing) are the factors which affect performance and carcass and meat quality. The content of healthy fatty acids, as n-3 fatty acids, can be improved during finishing using forage-rich diets or supplementing the diet with linseed. It is also possible to increase meat shelf-life enriching diets with antioxidants such as vitamin E and plant polyphenols.

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