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Intramuscular fat in lamb muscle and the impact of selection for improved carcass lean meat yield

Anderson, F.L., Pannier, L., Pethick, D.W. and Gardner, G.E. (2015) Intramuscular fat in lamb muscle and the impact of selection for improved carcass lean meat yield. Animal, 9 (6). pp. 1081-1090.

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Intramuscular fat percentage (IMF%) has been shown to have a positive influence on the eating quality of red meat. Selection of Australian lambs for increased lean tissue and reduced carcass fatness using Australian Sheep Breeding Values has been shown to decrease IMF% of the Muscularis longissimus lumborum. The impact this selection has on the IMF% of other muscle depots is unknown. This study examined IMF% in five different muscles from 400 lambs (M. longissimus lumborum, Muscularis semimembranosus, Muscularis semitendinosus, Muscularis supraspinatus, Muscularis infraspinatus). The sires of these lambs had a broad range in carcass breeding values for post-weaning weight, eye muscle depth and fat depth over the 12th rib (c-site fat depth). Results showed IMF% to be highest in the M. supraspinatus (4.87±0.1, P<0.01) and lowest in the M. semimembranosus (3.58±0.1, P<0.01). Hot carcass weight was positively associated with IMF% of all muscles. Selection for decreasing c-site fat depth reduced IMF% in the M. longissimus lumborum, M. semimembranosus and M. semitendinosus. Higher breeding values for post-weaning weight and eye muscle depth increased and decreased IMF%, respectively, but only in the lambs born as multiples and raised as singles. For each per cent increase in lean meat yield percentage (LMY%), there was a reduction in IMF% of 0.16 in all five muscles examined. Given the drive within the lamb industry to improve LMY%, our results indicate the importance of continued monitoring of IMF% throughout the different carcass regions, given its importance for eating quality.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © The Animal Consortium 2014
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