The effects of castration, supplementation, and implant protocol (IP) on growth, carcass characteristics, and meat quality of grass-fed cattle were evaluated. Two experiments followed a two-way ANOVA and a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Experiment-I, 99 bulls were evaluated for: (a) supplementation (mineral (MS) or strategic protein-energy supplementation (SS)), and (b) IP (repeated (day-0 and day-90) Zeranol-72 mg implantation (Zeranol–Zeranol) or Trenbolone Acetate-140 mg/Estradiol-20 mg (day-0) followed by Zeranol-72 mg (day-90) (TBA/E2–Zeranol)). Experiment II, 50 animals were evaluated for: (a) IP (like Experiment-I), and (b) male class (steers vs. bulls). In Experiment-I, SS bulls had greater growth rate, carcass yield, and yield of high-valued boneless lean cuts than MS bulls, while decreasing (p < 0.05) time to harvest. Steaks from SS-bulls on TBA/E2– Zeranol IP were more (p = 0.05) tender than SS/Zeranol–Zeranol counterparts. Experiment-II bulls had greater growth than steers, but decreased (p < 0.05) carcass quality aspects. Zeranol–Zeranol increased (p <0.01) meat tenderness of steers. Interactions (p < 0.05) affected cutability (Experiment-II) and meat sensory traits (Experiment-I/II). The SS improved growth, carcass yield, and shortened days until harvest of bulls, while TBA/E2–Zeranol IP positively affected tenderness in bull meat only. Castration improved carcass quality while the implant effects on cutability and tenderness were male-class dependent.
- Grass-fed beef