The use of bulls rather than steers for beef production offers some considerable advantages; however, the eating quality of bull beef is an issue of marketing concern. This study assessed the physicochemical characteristics of young Holstein-Friesian (HF) bull and steer beef. Steer carcasses were suspended by the Achilles tendon (AS) and by pelvic suspension (PS). HF steer beef had higher redness, yellowness and chroma values, whereas bulls had higher ultimate pH and darker muscle. Warner-Bratzler shear force, cook loss at different ageing times, moisture, and insoluble and total collagen were higher for HF bull beef, whereas intramuscular fat, soluble collagen and collagen solubility were higher for steer beef. HF steer beef had a higher proportion of saturated fatty acids (SFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), whereas bull beef had higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), PUFA/SFA and n-6/n-3 PUFA ratios. In comparison to AS, PS increased redness and chroma after 24 h blooming; PS improved tenderness up to 7 days of ageing and accelerated the ageing process. For young dairy cattle, steer beef would likely have superior eating quality but a relatively less favourable nutritional fatty acid profile to bull beef. Suspension method affected the tenderness and colour intensity of dairy steer beef at different ageing times. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry.