Carcass characteristics and meat quality attributes in lambs reared indoors, on cultivated pasture, or on semi-natural pasture
This study evaluated the effects of different lamb production systems on live weight gain (LWG), carcass quality and meat quality. Four production systems for weaned intact male lambs were examined: indoor feeding with grass silage and concentrate (group 1), grazing on cultivated pasture with (group 2) or without (group 3) concentrate, and grazing on semi-natural pasture (group 4). Live weight, carcass weight, dressing percentage, carcass conformation, fatness and pH decline were recorded at slaughter, and M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum was analysed for colour, thawing and cooking loss, pH after 24 hours and 6 days, and Warner-Bratzler shear force. LWG was strongly affected by production system, being highest for group 1 and lowest for group 4 (p<0.001). Group 4 had the lowest conformation (p=0.002) and fat scores (p<0.001). Hence, production system affected age at slaughter, live weight gain, weight at slaughter, carcass conformation and fatness scores, but caused no differences in meat quality attributes in intact male lambs.