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Genetic correlations between meat quality traits and growth and carcass traits in Merino sheep

Mortimer, S.I., 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 (2018) Genetic correlations between meat quality traits and growth and carcass traits in Merino sheep. Journal of Animal Science, 96 (9). pp. 3582-3598.

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Genetic correlations between 16 meat quality and nutritional value traits and live weight at various ages, live ultrasound fat and muscle depth, carcass measures, and carcass dissection traits were estimated for Merino sheep in the Information Nucleus (IN). Genetic correlations between live weight at various ages and the carcass traits are also reported. The IN comprised 8 genetically linked flocks managed across a range of Australian sheep environments. Meat quality traits included between 1,200 and 1,300 records for progeny from over 170 sires for intramuscular fat (IMF), lean meat yield (LMY), shear force (SF5), pH, meat color, and meat nutritional value traits including iron and zinc levels and long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels. The genetic correlations indicated that selection of Merino sheep to either reduce fat or increase muscle using ultrasound assessments will result in little change in IMF and SF5. Myoglobin levels would tend to be reduced following selection for reduced ultrasound fat depth (0.35 ± 0.21, 0.43 ± 0.14), whereas increases in myoglobin levels would occur due to selection for increased ultrasound muscle depth (0.25 ± 0.24, 0.38 ± 0.15). Selection for increased live weight will result in favorable correlated responses in hot carcass weight (0.76 to 0.97), dressing percentage (0.13 to 0.47), and carcass muscle (0.37 to 0.95), but unfavorable responses of increases in carcass fatness (0.13 to 0.65) and possible small reductions in muscle oxidative activity (−0.13 ± 0.14 to −0.73 ± 0.33) and iron content (−0.14 ± 0.15 to −0.38 ± 0.16), and a possible deterioration of shear force from selection at later ages (0.15 ± 0.26, 0.27 ± 0.24). Negligible changes are generally expected for LMY and meat color traits following selection for increased live weight (most genetic correlations less than 0.20 in size). Selection for increased LMY would tend to result in unfavorable changes in several aspects of meat quality, including reduced IMF (−0.27 ± 0.18), meat tenderness (0.53 ± 0.26), and meat redness (−0.69 ± 0.40), as well as reduced iron levels (−0.25 ± 0.22). These genetic correlations are a first step in assisting the development of breeding values for new traits to be incorporated into genetic evaluation programs to improve meat production from Merino sheep and other dual-purpose sheep breeds.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: American Society of Animal Science
Copyright: © The Author(s) 2018.
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