The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of finishing lambs on concentrate (C) or by grazing ryegrass forage (F) to slaughter end weights of 52 (N) or 77 kg (H) on carcass characteristics and organoleptic properties. This experiment included 64 Targhee × Hampshire lambs (average BW = 24 ± 1 kg) in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments to compare wethers vs. ewes, C vs. F, and N vs. H slaughter weights. No interactions (P > 0.10) were observed between gender and other main effects. Hot carcass weight and dressing percent were greater (P < 0.001) for C- than for F-fed lambs. Backfat thickness also was greater (P < 0.001) for lambs fed C than for those fed F. Moreover, USDA lean quality score and USDA yield grades were higher (P < 0.001) for C- than for F-fed lambs, as well as for lambs slaughtered at H vs. N market weights. There was a higher (P < 0.005) incidence of off odors and off flavors in cooked muscle from F- vs. C-fed lambs, and also from H vs. N slaughter-weight lambs. The heavy C-fed lambs had juicier (P < 0.001) meat than other treatment combinations. Cooked meat from C-fed lambs received higher (P < 0.001) overall acceptability scores. Concentrate-finished lambs produced fatter carcasses and more palatable meat than forage-finished lambs; however, forage finishing allowed for slaughter at heavier weights without excessive fat deposition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology