Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science

First Advisor

Amanda Blair


bison, camera grading technology, carcass characteristics, finishing systems, harvest systems, meat quality


The objectives of this thesis project were to 1) characterize the influence of finishing system (grain-finished vs. grass-finished) on carcass characteristics, meat quality, the nutritional composition, and consumer preference for bison meat 2) evaluate the effectiveness of beef camera grading technology on grain- and grass-finished bison carcass characteristics, and 3) characterize the influence harvest systems (on-ranch vs. commercial facilities) on animal stress response, carcass characteristics, meat quality, and consumer preference of bison heifers. For objectives 1 and 2: Grain- (n=108) and grass- (n=93) finished bison heifers were slaughtered at 28 mo of age, at approximately 20 h postmortem, carcass measurements and camera images were recorded, and striploins were collected from a subsample of caresses (n=30 carcasses closest to the treatment average hot carcass weight) for meat quality analyses. For objective 2, grass-finished bison heifers were randomly assigned to harvest treatments: Commercial (n=93, transported ~720 km to a commercial harvest facility) or On-ranch (n = 40, harvested onranch using a mobile slaughter unit). Blood samples were collected immediately following exsanguination, carcass measurements were recorded, and striploins were collected from a subsample of carcasses (n=30 carcasses closest to the treatment average hot carcass weight). For objective 1, finishing systems influenced bison carcass characteristics and meat quality; however, there was no differences detected between finishing systems for consumer preferences. Additionally, finishing systems influenced nutrient content and fatty acid composition, which may have health implications; as grass-finished steaks had decreased fat and cholesterol content, but increased proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to grain-finished steaks. For objective 2, bison ribeye images collected with a beef grading camera were correlated with expert grader evaluations, however the camera was more efficient at determining yield grade parameters, and had difficulties measuring marbling. Accuracy of measurements and validation of a suitable camera grading system for bison will require additional investigation, including calibration and adjustments for bison carcass characteristics. For objective 3, harvest systems influenced short-term stress response, and some carcass and meat quality characteristics of bison heifers. However, harvest systems had minimal impact on consumer preference for bison.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

American bison -- Feeding and feeds.
American bison -- Carcasses -- Quality.
Buffalo meat -- Quality.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Beef Science Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright