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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Research Project #437204

Research Project: Carcass Traits and Muscle-Fiber Types of Lambs Managed in Traditional-Range and Artificial-Rearing Systems

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Project Number: 2056-31610-006-20-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 29, 2019
End Date: Jul 29, 2020

Objective:
Determine the effect of various rearing systems on lamb performance, carcass attributes, retail-cut attributes, and muscle-fiber type.

Approach:
Alternative lamb-rearing systems are needed to manage "surplus" lambs, also known as orphan lambs, born to highly-prolific sheep breeds. Lambs reared on artificial systems, where nutrients are not limiting and climatic extremes are minimized, tend to grow much faster that lambs reared by their mother. This rapid growth may affect the carcass quality and value, which may be the result of different fat deposition rates and(or) muscle-fiber type compared with traditionally-reared lambs. At birth, lambs born in triplet litters will be assigned to one of three treatments: early-wean, late-wean, and artificially-reared. Lambs will be reared according to treatment assignment and finished in a feedlot system. At approximately 130 lb of body weight, lambs will be shipped to a commercial abattoir and processed. Standard carcass-attribute data will be measured and muscle samples will be collected for subsequent muscle-fiber analysis and classification.