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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 50(8)

Influence of finishing systems and sampling site on fatty acid composition and retail shelf-life of lamb

E. N. Ponnampalam A B G, R. D. Warner B, S. Kitessa C, M. B. McDonagh D, D. W. Pethick E, D. Allen B, D. L. Hopkins F

A Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.
B Future Farming Systems Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia.
C CSIRO Livestock Industries, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia.
D Biosciences Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Bundoora, Vic. 3083, Australia.
E Division of Vet and Biomedical Science, Murdoch University, WA 6150, Australia.
F Industry & Investment NSW (Primary Industries), Centre for Sheep Meat Development, PO Box 129, Cowra, NSW 2794, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: eric.ponnampalam@dpi.vic.gov.au
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Thirty 7-month-old crossbred lambs (Poll Dorset × Border Leicester × Merino) finished over 5 weeks on either low quality pasture or grain-with-hay on a farm in southern Victoria were assessed for carcass parameters, muscle fat composition and retail colour stability. Lambs on the grain diet had a mix of barley grain (80%) and lentils (20%) at 800 g/head.day (air-dry basis ~ad libitum) with cape weed (Arctotheca calendula) hay available at all times. Lambs under grazing had predominantly rye grass (Lolium perenne) and barley grass (Hordeum leporinum) available ad libitum. Carcass weight tended to be higher (P = 0.14) in grain-fed lambs than in grass-fed lambs, but fatness indicated by GR (total muscle + fat tissue thickness at 11 cm from midline) did not differ between feeding systems. Fatty acid composition was determined in the loin from the forequarter (M. longissimus thoracis) and lumbar (M. longissimus lumborum) regions and from the leg region (M. semimembranosus). This showed that grain-finished lamb had higher muscle fat (P < 0.001) and omega-6 fatty acid (P < 0.001) content. Alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or total omega-3 fat did not differ (P > 0.05) between feeding groups. Saturated fatty acids were greater (P < 0.01) in both loin sampling sites than the leg. The levels of EPA, docosahexaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid were lower (P < 0.01) in the forequarter (9%) or lumbar (11%) sites than the leg sampling site. The distribution pattern of fatty acids across the three sampling sites did not differ between feed types. Retail colour stability determined over 4 days of display (only performed in muscle from the lumbar site), evaluated by the redness (HunterLab a*-value) and metmyoglobin formation (reflectance ratio at 630 : 580-nm wavelengths) was superior for grass-fed lamb compared with short-term grain-finished lamb. The results demonstrate that the health claimable omega-3 fat mainly EPA or total omega-3 fat content in lamb was not altered by short-term grain finishing compared with lamb finished under pasture grazing conditions.

Keywords: meat colour stability, muscle fat composition, omega-3 fat, short-term grain finishing.

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