Associations of sire estimated breeding values and objective meat quality measurements with sensory scores in Australian lamb.
The eating quality of lamb meat of three indigenous Greek dairy breeds of sheep, reared under different nutritional management conditions, was assessed by Taste Panel Tests (TPT). Lean samples from the leg joints of 69 lamb carcasses of the Boutsko (B), Serres (S) and Karagouniko (K) breed were used. For the first TPT, 24 lambs (four males and four females of each breed) were reared in individual pens on a concentrate ration fed ad libitum. For the second TPT, 27 individual penned male lambs were fed on Lucerne hay ad libitum and on three different levels of concentrate: High (H), Medium, (M) and Low (L). For the third TPT, 18 male lambs were used; initially the groups were fed indoors for 63 days on three different levels of concentrate (H, M and L) together with ad libitum Lucerne hay, and subsequently finished on irrigated, sown pasture. For TPT 1, leg joints were obtained from lambs that had been slaughtered at 30, 45, 60 or 90% of mature weight (PMW) for each breed. For TPT 2, lambs were slaughtered at 23, 28 or 33 kg target slaughter live weights (TSLW), common for all breeds. For TPT 3, lambs were slaughtered at 48 or 55% of PMW for each breed. Panellists assessed warm, roasted lean samples of leg joints and rated Flavour, Juiciness, Tenderness and Overall Acceptability. In TPT 1, degree of maturity significantly affected Flavour, Tenderness and Overall Acceptability whereas sex affected only Flavour. In TPT 2, breed and concentrate level significantly affected the quality characteristics, but concentrate level had no significant effect in TPT 3. Effects associated with slaughter weight were significant for most characteristics in all TPT, with decreasing acceptability for older/heavier lambs. Significant interactions were found between breed and the other factors in TPT 2 and TPT 3 for most quality characteristics. Results from these studies suggest changing traditional production systems may enhance the eating quality of lamb meat.