New Zealand meat companies are investigating lamb payment systems based on lean-meat yield and meat quality. Factors that affect these traits need to be determined. Carcass composition and meat quality data from 450 Texel-cross lambs (ewe and ram) were used to evaluate the effect of sire (two sires Property One, three sires Property Two) and slaughter group. Lambs reaching target slaughter weight first (38 kg and 35 kg for ram and ewe lambs respectively) were allocated to slaughter group one, with the remainder allocated to slaughter group two and slaughtered approximately 40 days later. The average carcass weight for both groups was 17.9 ± 1.51 kg. Carcass composition traits were adjusted for carcass weight, and meat quality traits were adjusted for pH. Carcass width at the thorax and gigot was narrower in slaughter group two (P < 0.001). Trimmed leg weight and total leg muscle weight were lower (P < 0.001), whereas total leg fat weight and muscle to bone ratios were higher (P < 0.001), for slaughter group two. Femur muscularity was higher in slaughter group two (P < 0.001) for Property One only. Warner-Bratzler shear values and measures of colour (L*, a* and b*) were higher (P < 0.001), whereas cooking loss was lower (P < 0.001), for the longissimus muscle in slaughter group two. In addition, sire within property was a source of variation (P < 0.001) for all carcass composition traits and meat quality traits, with the exception of pH. These results demonstrate that both slaughter group and sire (within a breed and property) are significant sources of variation in carcass composition and meat quality traits. As a result, these need to be taken into account when making management and breeding decisions for the supply of lambs to meat companies under any future payment systems based on yield and meat quality. KEYWORDS: lamb; carcass traits; sire.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 241-246, 2005
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