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The role of saltbush-based pasture systems for the production of high quality sheep and goat meat

Pearce, K.L., Norman, H.C. and Hopkins, D.L. (2010) The role of saltbush-based pasture systems for the production of high quality sheep and goat meat. Small Ruminant Research, 91 (1). pp. 29-38.

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This review examines the roles of halophytic forage shrubs such as saltbush (Atriplex spp.) in the production of high quality sheep or goat meat. It is apparent that saltbush-based pastures have the potential to produce a carcass with proportionately more carcass lean (with less fat) and boost muscle vitamin E to levels that benefit meat colour stability. With careful consideration of production targets to minimise liveweight loss, this review has outlined potentially useful ways in a farming system to generate these meat quality benefits. Significant research is needed to understand the grazing conditions and periods needed to positively alter carcass composition and boost vitamin E levels above the threshold needed for benefits to meat colour without compromising animal production and eating quality. Difficulties arise because forage halophytes are associated with low to moderate energy values, so they are incapable of supporting the levels of liveweight gain required to produce commercially desirable carcass weights, unless the animals are supplemented with either high quality pasture or grains. This review has highlighted the untapped potential for the goat meat industry to derive a meat product from halophytic forage shrubs. Goats may have an increased potential for liveweight gain and higher carcass lean and achieve a similar elevation in muscle vitamin E levels to sheep because of their browsing ability.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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