The effect of sex on some carcass and meat quality traits in Texel ewe and ram lambs
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Much of the past research into gender effects on lamb meat quality has focussed on comparing ram lambs with castrated males, but more recent comparisons between ram and ewe lambs have yielded variable results. The objective of the current research was to compare meat quality parameters of M. longissimus lumborum (LL), and M. semimembranosus (SM) from pasture-fed Texel ram (n = 94) and ewe (n = 114) lambs slaughtered at an average age of 144 days in a commercial abattoir. After aging carcasses for between 7 and 9 days, LL andSMwere significantly tougher (higher shear values) for ram compared with ewe lambs (P < 0.001). LL from rams had significantly lower intramuscular fat percentage, and higher moisture content than LL from ewes. Differences in LL intramuscular fat percentage or ultimate pH did not explain the sex effect on LL shear force when tested individually or together as additional covariates in the model. Ram SM was lighter in colour (higher L*) and had a higher cooking loss than that of ewes (P < 0.001). The correlations between some of the traits within and between muscles clearly differed between the sexes. Finishing ram lambs to the specifications used in this experiment resulted in meat with relatively minor, but statistically significant differences in quality relative to that from ewe lambs.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Animal Production Science