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Effect of Merino sheep age on consumer sensory scores, carcass and instrumental meat quality measurements

Pannier, L., Gardner, G.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-7499-9986 and Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677 (2018) Effect of Merino sheep age on consumer sensory scores, carcass and instrumental meat quality measurements. Animal Production Science, 59 (7). pp. 1349-1359.

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Slower growing Merino sheep often miss the lamb category and become yearlings. Yet, they may still produce meat of acceptable eating quality, thus opening the opportunity to develop high quality yearling products. Consumer sensory differences (tenderness, overall liking, juiciness, liking of flavour and liking of odour) of grilled wet-aged (5 days) steaks from the M. longissimus lumborum (LL) and M. semimembranosus (SM) derived from wether lamb (n = 185 average age 355 days) and wether yearling (n = 206 average age 685 days) Merinos were tested. Additionally, the age effect on carcass and instrumental meat quality traits was analysed. Lambs were born in 2009 and 2010 at two research sites (Kirby, Katanning), and yearlings were born in 2009 at five research sites (Kirby, Cowra, Rutherglen, Struan, Katanning). On average within each muscle, yearlings had lower scores for all sensory attributes (P < 0.01) compared to lambs. Lambs versus yearlings born in the same year and reared at the same research site had greater sensory differences within the SM (P < 0.01), up to 10.0 eating quality scores more for tenderness. In contrast, the LL samples had almost no significant differences between the two age groups. A portion of the differences in overall liking and liking of flavour scores was explained by intramuscular fat. Yearlings were slightly heavier (P < 0.01) but leaner (P < 0.01), compared to lambs, and yearling meat colour was darker (P < 0.01). While the results generally supported the better eating quality of lamb, they demonstrated a very acceptable yearling LL eating quality, and showed the smaller impact of age on the LL muscle in Merinos. Hence, the development of a high quality yearling product for the LL muscle is possible.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2018
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