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Growth breeding value redistributes weight to the saddle region of lamb carcasses

Gardner, G.E., Anderson, F., Williams, A., Kelman, K.R., Pannier, L. and Pethick, D.W. (2012) Growth breeding value redistributes weight to the saddle region of lamb carcasses. In: 63rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science, 27 - 31 August, Bratislava, Slovakia.


Increased growth rate and carcass lean meat yield % are key profit drivers for the lamb industry, however redistributing lean tissue to more highly priced parts of the carcase will also increase its value. Faster growing lambs are known to be leaner and less mature at slaughter. Therefore we hypothesised that selection for growth using the Australian Sheep Breeding Value (ASBV) for greater post weaning weight (PWWT) would increase whole carcase lean weight, when animals are compared at the same carcase weight. Lamb carcases (n=1,218) from the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus were scanned in sections (fore, saddle, and hind) using Computed Tomography (CT) to determine fat lean and bone weights. Data was analysed using the log-linearised allometric equation logy = log a + b.logx. Fixed effects were site-year, sex sire type, birth-type rear-type and kill group within site-year, with random terms sire and dam by year. For the same carcass weight PWWT caused no composition differences, except in female lambs which had 3.3% more carcase lean (P<0.01) across the 25 unis PWWT range. Alternatively for the same fat, lean or bone weight these tissues were all proportionately heavier in the saddle region of the high PWWT lambs by 3%, 7%, and 16% across the PWWT range. Aligning with our hypothesis, PWWT was associated with increased total carcase lean, although only in females. Unexpectedly, PWWT caused a redistribution of carcass tissues to the saddle region, particularly for bone and lean, implying an altered conformation in these high growth lambs. Conflicting with the premise of our hypothesis, these effects appear to be independent of maturity as there was no whole body increase in bone weight. Furthermore loin muscle myoglobin concentration in the high PWWT lambs was increased (by 0.03±0.018 mg/g tissue) rather than decreased as would be expected in a less mature animal, In conclusion, PWWT redistributes carcase weight to the saddle region of lambs.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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