The potential effects of nutrition-management practices on marbling development are not just a matter of increasing fat. Of the four fat depots in the body — visceral, intermuscular, subcutaneous and marbling — the last one to develop is marbling.

● Acetate serves as the primary source of energy or “substrate” for subcutaneous fat, whereas glucose serves as the primary substrate for marbling. Propionate is the primary precursor of glucose.

● High-quality forages such as wheat pasture provide more ruminal propionate than low-quality dormant forages, and supplementation of corn for cattle grazed on dormant native range increases propionate production.

Academic and industry studies that address the question of nutrition-management practices on marbling development historically have been conducted during the feedlot phase of production. This present DASNR study is unique in that it focuses on factors influencing marbling development during the stocker phase.

Scott Dewald, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, said stocker operations — just like the state’s cow-calf, feeder and seed-stock sectors — are significantly important to ranchers and, by association, the prosperity of the communities and counties in which they live and work.

“Oklahoma’s strong winter wheat pasture programs and summer grass programs make it clear that anything we can gain through research to increase production efficiencies and carcass quality will pay dividends to producers and the state economy,” he said.