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Title: Carcass merit and meat quality when Suffolk lambs, Katahdin lambs, and meat-goat kids were finished on a grass-legume pasture with and without supplementation

item Turner, Kenneth
item BELESKY, DAVID - West Virginia University
item CASSIDA, KIMBERLY - Michigan State University
item ZERBY, HENRY - The Ohio State University

Submitted to: Meat Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/2/2014
Publication Date: 7/1/2014
Citation: Turner, K.E., Belesky, D.P., Cassida, K.A., Zerby, H.N. 2014. Carcass merit and meat quality when Suffolk lambs, Katahdin lambs, and meat-goat kids were finished on a grass-legume pasture with and without supplementation. Meat Science. 98(2014):211-219.

Interpretive Summary: The demand for lamb and chevon (goat meat) to satisfy ethnic markets is increasing in the USA. The sheep and meat goat industries to help produce meat for the niche markets are growing on small-scale farms in the Appalachian Region of the USA. We evaluated traditional sheep, hair sheep, and meat goat carcass traits and meat quality parameters when growing animals were finished on a pasture with and without supplemental feed. At the end of the pasture growing season, Katahdin lambs and meat-goat kids finished on pasture with and without whole cottonseed supplementation produced desirable carcass weights and carcass parameters for most niche markets in the USA, whereas heavier live body weights and carcasses from Suffolk lambs may fit better into the traditional lamb markets. Supplementation with whole cottonseed increased ribeye area, bodywall thickness, and lean quality score in carcasses of all animals. Katahdin lamb carcasses typically had the highest leg, lean quality, and conformation scores when compared to Suffolk and meat-goat kids. Protein and intramuscular fat content of meats were not influenced by whole cottonseed supplementation when animals were finished on pasture. Katahdin lamb meat typically had the highest intramuscular fat content in comparison to chevon which consistently had the lowest. Desirable fatty acid profiles were similar among lamb meats and chevon from animals finished on pasture both with and without whole cottonseed supplementation. Desirable fatty acids levels in meat from Suffolk and Katahdin lambs and meat-goat kids finished on a pasture-based diet fit guidelines for meats that can aid improvements to human diets and health. This information is useful to livestock producers in the USA developing grazing and supplemental feeding programs using specific small ruminant species for producing animals of targeted live weights for ethnic markets. Information is also useful to dieticians developing dietary guidelines and low-fat meat meals for improved human health.

Technical Abstract: Small ruminant species and breed may impact response to supplementation of pasture diets. The experiment evaluated traditional U.S. sheep (Suffolk crossbed; SX, n = 36), hair sheep (Katahdin; KA, n = 36), and meat goat (Boer crossbred; GX, n = 36) carcass characteristics and meat quality parameters when finished on pasture. Lambs and kids were finished on a mixed sward of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) with (SUP) and without supplemental (UNSUP) whole cottonseed (Gossypium hirsutum L.) replicated over a three-year period (2006-2008). Ribeye area (10.0 ± 0.7 cm2 for SUP and 9.5 ± 0.07 cm2 for UNSUP; P < 0.01) and body wall thickness (0.89 ± 0.04 cm for SUP and 0.80 ± 0.04 for UNSUP; P < 0.001) were greater in SUP than UNSUP animals. Lean quality score was also higher (P < 0.05) for SUP (11.6 ± 0.1) compared to UNSUP (11.4 ± 0.1) animals. There were no differences between UNSUP and SUP groups for dressing percentage (mean 51.1 ± 1.5%), backfat thickness (mean 1.5 ± 0.3 mm), leg score (mean 10.9 ± 0.3), and ribeye area to cold carcass weight ratio (mean 0.64 ± 0.02). Ash (mean 4.3 ± 0.1 %), crude protein (mean 22.3 ± 0.8%), and intramuscular fat (IMF; mean 2.4 ± 0.1%) in longissimus (LM) samples were not different between UNSUP and SUP groups. Longissimus samples from KA sheep typically had the greatest (Year × Breed interaction, P < 0.001) IMF when compared with GX goats that consistently had lower IMF; IMF of SX was similar to KA in 2006, but lesser and not different from GX in years 2007 and 2008. Overall, SUP with whole cottonseed increased (P < 0.05) fatty acids (FA) 18:1t10, 18:1t12, and Omega6:Omega3 ratio and decreased (P < 0.05) FA 18:1t11, 18:3, and Omega3 in LM. Chevon LM samples had greater (P < 0.001) FA 15:0, 18:2t10, 18:1c11, 22:0, 20:4, and Omega6:Omega3 ratio compared when compared with SX or KA lamb LM. Chevon LM had less (P < 0.01) FA 14:0, 18:0, 18:1t11, 18:3, 20:3n-6, and saturated fatty acids when compared with the LM from SX or KA. Small ruminants finished on pasture produced desirable body weights and carcasses for most ethnic markets in the USA. Desirable fatty acids levels in lamb meat and chevon were within the guidelines for improving human diets and health.