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Genetic correlations between wool traits and meat quality traits in Merino sheep

Mortimer, S.I., Hatcher, S., Fogarty, N.M., van der Werf, J.H.J., Brown, D.J., Swan, A.A., Jacob, R.H., Geesink, G.H., Hopkins, D.L., Hocking Edwards, J.E., Ponnampalam, E.N., Warner, R.D., Pearce, K.L. and Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677 (2017) Genetic correlations between wool traits and meat quality traits in Merino sheep. Journal of Animal Science, 95 (10). pp. 4260-4273.

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Genetic correlations between 29 wool production and quality traits and 25 meat quality and nutritional value traits were estimated for Merino sheep from an Information Nucleus (IN). Genetic correlations among the meat quality and nutritional value traits are also reported. The IN comprised 8 flocks linked genetically and managed across a range of sheep production environments in Australia. The wool traits included over 5,000 yearling and 3,700 adult records for fleece weight, fiber diameter, staple length, staple strength, fiber diameter variation, scoured wool color, and visual scores for breech and body wrinkle. The meat quality traits were measured on samples from the M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum and included over 1,200 records from progeny of over 170 sires for intramuscular fat (IMF), shear force of meat aged for 5 d (SF5), 24 h postmortem pH (pH24LL; also measured in the semitendinosus muscle, pH24ST), fresh and retail meat color and meat nutritional value traits such as iron and zinc levels, and long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels. Estimated heritabilities for IMF, SF5, pH24LL, pH24ST, retail meat color lightness (L*), myoglobin, iron, zinc and across the range of long-chain fatty acids were 0.58 ± 0.11, 0.10 ± 0.09, 0.15 ± 0.07, 0.20 ± 0.10, 0.59 ± 0.15, 0.31 ± 0.09, 0.20 ± 0.09, 0.11 ± 0.09, and range of 0.00 (eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and arachidonic acids) to 0.14 ± 0.07 (linoleic acid), respectively. The genetic correlations between the wool production and meat quality traits were low to negligible and indicate that wool breeding programs will have little or no effect on meat quality. There were moderately favorable genetic correlations between important yearling wool production traits and the omega-3 fatty acids that were reduced for corresponding adult wool production traits, but these correlations are unlikely to be important in wool/meat breeding programs because they have high SE, and the omega-3 traits have little or no genetic variance. Significant genetic correlations among the meat quality traits included IMF with SF5 (-0.76 ± 0.24), fresh meat color L* (0.50 ± 0.18), and zinc (0.41 ± 0.19). Selection to increase IMF will improve meat tenderness and color which may address some of the issues with Merino meat quality. These estimated parameters allow Merino breeders to combine wool and meat objectives without compromising meat quality.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: American Society of Animal Science
Copyright: © 2017 American Society of Animal Science.
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