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Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science

Print version ISSN 0864-0408On-line version ISSN 2079-3480

Cuban J. Agric. Sci. vol.50 no.3 Mayabeque Jul.-Sept. 2016


Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 50(3): 365-370, 2016, ISSN: 2079-3480




Meat yield of grazing river buffalos (Bubalus bubalis)


Rendimiento en carne de búfalos de agua (Bubalus bubalis) en pastoreo



O. Fundora,I D. Fernández,II Lyhen Sánchez,I María E. González,I

IInstituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.
IIEmpresa Pecuaria Macún, Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara, Cuba.




In order to determine grazing river buffalos meat yield, 40 river buffalos (20 Buffalypso and 20 Carabao), with final liveweights of 412.0 and 394.2 kg, started with 170 and 184 kg, respectively, were used. These animals were grazing in an area of 77ha, divided into four paddocks composed by Dichantium annulatum, Digitaria decumbens, Dichantium caricosum, Bothriochloa pertusa, Paspalum notatum and Mimosa pudica, which constituted 95.6% y 87% of the botanical composition, and available dry matter yield of 2.2 t.ha-1 and 0.8 t.ha-1 during rainy or dry periods, respectively. Meat yield, bromatological composition and some physical properties were determined. Total meat yield per surface unit was higher in Buffalypso (72 kg) than in Carabao (62 kg). In addition, weight proportion of hindquarters regarding carcass was higher (P < 0.001) in Buffalypso (50.6%), compared to Carabao (48.8 %), but this did not affect yield of first quality meat in carcass (17.5 vs. 17.1%, respectively). Likewise, short loin proportion regarding total first quality meat (15.0 and 14.2 %) was superior (P < 0.05) in Buffalypso. However, proportions of inside round (22.3 and 23.1%) and tenderloin (6.9 and 7.5%) were lower (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01) in this breed. It can be concluded that total and first quality meat is similar in both breeds, although they showed different proportions in forequarters and hindquarters, and in cuts of first quality meat, while the yield of total meat per surface unit is superior in Buffalypso breed.

Key words: river buffalos, meat, yield, composition.


Para determinar el rendimiento en carne de búfalos en pastoreo, se utilizaron 40 búfalos (20 Buffalypso y 20 Carabao) con pesos vivos finales de 412.0 y 394.2 kg, iniciados con 170 y 184 kg, respectivamente. Los animales se encontraban en pastoreo de 77 ha, divididas en cuatro cuartones compuestos por Dichantium annulatum, Digitaria decumbens, Dichantium caricosum, Bothriochloa pertusa, Paspalum notatum y Mimosa pudica, que conformaron 95.6% y 87% de la composición botánica, con rendimiento de materia seca disponible en lluvias y seca de 2.2 t.ha-1 y 0.8 t.ha-1 respectivamente. Se determinó el rendimiento en carne, la composición bromatológica y algunas de sus propiedades físicas. El rendimiento en carne total por hectárea fue mayor en los Buffalypso (72 kg) que los Carabao (62 kg).  También la proporción en peso de los cuartos traseros con respecto a la canal fue mayor (P < 0.001) en los Buffalypso (50.6%) en comparación con los Carabao (48.8 %), pero esto no afectó el rendimiento en carne de primera en la canal (17.5 vs 17.1%, respectivamente). Asimismo, la proporción de riñonada con respecto al total de carne de primera (15.0 y 14.2 %) fue superior (P < 0.05) en el Buffalypso. Contrariamente, las proporciones de cañada (22.3 y 23.1%) y filete (6.9 y 7.5%) fueron menores (P < 0.05 y P < 0.01) en esta raza. Se concluye que el rendimiento en carne total y de primera es similar en ambas razas, a pesar de mostrar diferentes proporciones en los cuartos delanteros y traseros y en los cortes de la carne de primera, mientras que el rendimiento en carne total por unidad de superficie es superior en los búfalos Buffalypso.

Palabras clave: búfalos, carne, rendimiento, composición.




Characteristics of river buffalo carcasses have been less studied than that of other ruminant species, like bovines.

Several factors affect carcass indicators and fractioning in fattening bovines. Some of them are system of management and feeding, growth speed of these animals, liveweight and age at slaughter, breed, sexual condition and others  (Torrescano et al. 2010). Probably, these same factors affect indicators in fattening river buffalos under similar management and feeding systems.

Studies conducted to evaluate characteristics of river buffalo carcasses indicated that these are similar to those of bovines. Despite the high weight of skin and head, meat proportion is almost the same (Uriyapongson 2013). However, due to low selection of river buffalo species for meat production, it is important to know its characteristics.

The objective of this study is to compare yield of total meat, first quality meat and cuts of interest, and to determine chemical composition and some physical properties of meat in two river buffalo breeds in Cuba.



An amount of 40 river buffalos were used (20 Buffalypso and 20 Carabao), located in a grazing area of 77 ha, belonging to the Empresa Pecuaria Macún from Villa Clara province. They were all grazing together in paddocks with Dichantium annulatum, Paspalum notatum, Digitaria decumbens, Dichantium caricosum, Botriocloa pertusa and Mimosa pudica. Table 1 shows botanical composition and dry matter availability in the pasture.

Water buffalos were slaughter with a liveweight near 400 kg, at the slaughter house from Macum enterprise. After slaughter, each quarter in cold carcass was weighed, after 24h of maturation. Each of the parts, constituting first and second quality meat, were also weighed.

An analysis of covariance (Di Rienzo et al. 2008) was performed to variables of cold carcass, hindquarters and forequarters weights. An analysis of proportions was applied to forequarters, hindquarters, first quality meat, second quality meat and total meat in relation to carcasses. Hot carcass was taken as concomitant variable. Later, an analysis of variance was performed according to the model of simple classification. The test of LSD Fisher (1935) was applied for P < 0.05. The rest of variables related to first quality meat cuts was analyzed through an analysis of variance, according to a completely randomized design.

A sample of Longissimus dorsi was taken from the hot carcass of each Buffalypso animal to determine bromatological composition, according to AOAC (2016), and water retention capacity, according to the method described by Lawrie (1998).

Before maturation at 4 ºC, pH was measured in situ, in incisions performed in five points of the part, introducing an electrode of a pH meter, standardized at a pH from 4 to 6.8. Temperature was also recorded with a thermometer in the same points of the incisions performed to measure pH. Texture was determined with the Warner-Bratzer knife, according to the procedure described by Lepetit and Culioli (1994).     



Covariables were significant, only for variables cold carcass, forequarters and hindquarters in absolute values (weight in kg), which are shown in table 2. Hindquarters were superior and forequarters were inferior in river buffalos of Buffalypso breed.

Hindquarters in proportion (%), regarding carcass, were also superior in Buffalypso. According to Mendes and de Lima (2011), this is the portion that contains the most valuable cuts, also observed in cows and some water buffalo breeds by Mendes et al. (1997) and Nogueira et al. (2006). In Carabao river buffalos, the contrary happened, but proportion of first quality meat and second quality meat, regarding the carcass, was similar in both breeds (table 3).

In Carabao river buffalos, the best development of forequarters, regarding the hindquarter, may be a result of their more frequent use for working with different agricultural implements in different countries, compared to animals from breeds involved in the formation of Buffalypso, which has been destined mostly to milk production.

Meat production per ha unit was superior in Buffalypso breed. This result was related to weight at slaughter, which was also higher in Buffalypso animals, due to the best productive performance demonstrated by this breed during growth, according to reports from Fundora (2015).

There were also similar proportions for first quality meat and second quality meat regarding total meat in both breeds (figure 1).

Similarity of proportion of first quality meat in relation to carcass in animals from both breeds could be related to particular characteristics of different cuts of this region in each breed, despite being located in the hindquarters where Buffalypso showed the best development.

Table 4 shows percentage of special cuts of first quality meat. Knuckle, rump and eye round had no significant differences between breeds. Carabao water buffalos produced higher proportion of inside round and tenderloin, and less kidney in relation to Buffalypso animals. However, in absolute terms, river buffalos of Buffalypso breed produced 6 kg more of total meat. Out of them, 3.9 kg were second quality meat and 2.1 kg were first quality meat. Except the tenderloin, which had a similar weight in both breeds, the rest of first quality meat cuts weighed more in Buffalypso animals, as a consequence of the highest liveweight reached by this animals (Fundora 2015) and their carcasses at slaughter.

Table 5 shows the bromatological composition of meat from Buffalypso breed river buffalos. Mean values of dry matter and nutrients were similar to those reported by other authors (Andrighetto et al. 2008). High protein level in meat samples could contribute to marbled meat, only with the adequate intermuscular fat level, according to reports of Reback (2011).

Two of the most important elements of meat are texture and water retention capacity. As table 6 shows, meat may be classified as tender when texture values are relatively low, while water retention capacity is appropriate. In bovines, Sañudo et al. (2004) observed similar results in animals of inferior ages. This suggests that buffalos used in this study, slaughtered with around 2 years old, produce tender meats. Specific characteristics of this species, related to their longevity that is superior to bovines, may contribute to this result.

These results, related to the high protein level and texture (tables 5 and 6), together with reports from other authors that refer a meat with nutraceutical effects (Reback 2011), indicate the need to continue studies on river buffalo meat and carcasses, in this and other feeding and management systems, to reach a competitive meat destined to market and, particularly, to people that need to consume proteins from healthy protein sources.

It can be concluded that yield of total and first quality meat is similar in both breeds, despite showing different proportions in forequarters and hindquarters and in first quality meat cuts.



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Received: 20/11/2014
Accepted: 23/6/2016



O. Fundora, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Email:

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