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Preliminary estimates of genetic parameters for carcass and meat quality traits in Australian sheep

Mortimer, S.I., van der Werf, J.H.J., Jacob, R.H., Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677, Pearce, K.L., Warner, R.D., Geesink, G.H., Hocking Edwards, J.E., Gardner, G.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-7499-9986, Ponnampalam, E.N., Kitessa, S., Ball, A.J. and Hopkins, D.L. (2010) Preliminary estimates of genetic parameters for carcass and meat quality traits in Australian sheep. Animal Production Science, 50 (12). pp. 1135-1144.

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Using performance from progeny born in 2007 and 2008 generated by the Information Nucleus program of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation, preliminary estimates of heritability were obtained for a range of novel carcass and meat attributes of lamb relevant to consumers, including carcass characteristics, meat quality and nutritional value of lamb. Phenotypic and genetic correlations of live animal traits with carcass composition and meat quality traits were also estimated. The data were from progeny located at eight sites, sired by 183 rams from Merino, maternal and terminal meat breeds and were representative of the Merino, Border Leicester x Merino, Terminal x Merino and Terminal x Border Leicester-Merino production types of the Australian sheep industry. Data were available from 7176 lambs for weaning weight, 6771 lambs for ultrasound scanning and 4110 lambs for slaughter traits. For the novel meat quality traits, generally moderate to high heritability estimates were obtained for meat quality measures of shear force (0.27 aged 1 day, 0.38 aged 5 days), intramuscular fat (0.39), retail meat colour (range of 0.09 to 0.44) and myoglobin content (0.22). The nutritional value traits of omega-3 fatty acids and iron and zinc contents tended to have low to moderate heritabilities (0.11-0.37), although these were based on fewer records. Fresh meat colour traits were of low to moderate heritability (0.06-0.21) whereas measures of meat pH were of low heritability (similar to 0.10). For the carcass traits, estimates of heritability were moderate to high for the various measures of carcass fat (0.18-0.50), muscle weight (0.22-0.35), meat yield (0.24-0.35), carcass muscle dimensions (0.25-0.34) and bone weight (0.27). Results indicate that for most lamb carcass and meat quality traits there is sufficient genetic variation for selection to alter successfully these characteristics. Additionally, most genetic correlations of live animal assessments of bodyweight, muscle and subcutaneous fat with the carcass and meat quality traits were favourable. Appropriate definition of breeding objectives and design of selection indexes should be able to account for the small unfavourable relationships that exist and achieve the desired outcomes from breeding programs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
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