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The effect of dietary treatment on meat quality and on consumer perception of sheep meat eating quality

Pethick, D.W., Davidson, R., Hopkins, D.L., Jacob, R.H., D'Souza, D.N., Thompson, J.M. and Walker, P.J. (2005) The effect of dietary treatment on meat quality and on consumer perception of sheep meat eating quality. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 45 (5). pp. 517-524.

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The aim of this experiment was to test the effects of dietary treatment on sheep meat eating quality as perceived by untrained Australian consumers. Six-month-old Suffolk x Merino lambs (n = 192) were allocated to 1 of 4 nutritional treatments for 60-77 days and were fed: (i) an irrigated perennial ryegrass-clover-kikuyu sward; (ii) irrigated perennial ryegrass-clover-kikuyu pasture for 48-61 days then poor quality straw for the last 12-16 days; (iii) a mixed ration treatment consisting of a high-energy pelleted diet (40% barley grain, 30% wheat grain, 15% hay and 12% lupin grain); or (iv) irrigated pasture for 37-51 days followed by a moderate-energy pelleted diet (36% wheat grain, 35% hay and 24.5% lupin grain) for 23-26 days. The starting liveweight of lambs was 31.5-35.5 kg and the final hot carcass weight was 19-20 kg. The nutritional treatment finishing system employing straw feeding for the last 12-16 days was associated with a loss of liveweight during this period, a decreased tissue depth at the GR site and a decreased content of intramuscular fat and glycogen in muscle. Untrained Australian consumers were asked to rate samples (scale 0-100) of the M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LL) from lambs for tenderness, liking of flavour, juiciness and overall liking and then classify the meat as unsatisfactory, good everyday or better than everyday. Straw feeding was also associated with significantly reduced consumer scores for juiciness (P<0.05) and liking of flavour (P<0.10) with no changes in tenderness and overall liking. There was no significant difference in the consumer acceptance of the LL obtained from lambs finished on pasture v. grain-based diets. It is concluded that nutritional finishing systems should be selected to prevent animals from losing weight pre-slaughter and that decisions on pasture v. grain based feeding systems be based on the cost of production.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2005
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