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Golden Oldie

By: Reading Time: 2 Minutes
Previous Article Food and the City

Rethinking is required. Most breeders in Austria focus on Fleckvieh cattle and strive to produce as much meat as possible from young heifers and young bulls, as this yields the highest price. However, an extraordinary tasting showed that it’s actually older animals that should be preferred.

Six years of preparation

In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Michael Wilhelm of Alpinmanufaktur Wilhelm in Sölden and his colleague Werner Riml did a total of three unconventional cattle crossbreeds. The three crossbred calves as well as the purebred gray cattle were raised in suckler herds and spent as much time as possible outdoors. During the summer, the animals and their herd grazed continuously in the Ötztal mountain range. In winter, the cattle were kept in the barn. The animals were fed exclusively staple feed.

Tux cattle, yaks and Zackel sheep; animal breeders in Sölden in the Ötztal in Tyrol.

Andreas Doellerer, Michael Wilhelm und | Image: Helge Kirchberger

This approach allowed the cattle to grow slowly and with plenty of exercise, which helped them develop fine intermuscular fat and a high density of flavor. The goal was to work out which breeds of cattle produce the highest quality meat, whether certain crossbreeds have new potential and to what extent the animals’ age matters.

Who sells the best rated beef?

Image: Jürgen Schmucking

Exciting beef findings

Koch.Campus members and selected taste experts – 60 experienced tasters in total – including Heinz Reitbauer, Richard Rauch, Andreas Döllerer, Thomas Dorfer and the editorial team tested and rated the meat. In terms of taste, the most exciting find was the meat from older animals, which has a poor market reputation. Two of Michael Wilhelm’s cattle were almost four years old, and their meat received the highest scores. However, this meat is conventionally only used for sausage products. “A rethink is necessary here,” demands the breeder. “Fast fattening is a result of industrial meat production. Slow-growing animals, however, bring much more flavor.” The high score for bull meat was also unexpected. “The lean meat of a four-year-old bull is the cheapest category in the market, almost a waste product. With that said, with the right genetics from heritage breeds and when managed properly, an older bull can deliver great flavor, as our test proves.”

beef meat blind tasting test

The result of the blind tasting | 1: highest rating 4: worst rating

The respective overall rating may differ from the score in the individual categories, which is due to the complex scoring system with many detailed scores. All detailed results were taken into account in the respective overall rankings.

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