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Vegetation-type effects on performance and meat quality of growing Engadine and Valaisian Black Nose sheep grazing alpine pastures

Willems, H.; Kreuzer, M. and Leiber, F. (2013) Vegetation-type effects on performance and meat quality of growing Engadine and Valaisian Black Nose sheep grazing alpine pastures. Livestock Science, 151 (1), pp. 80-91.

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Document available online at: http://www.livestockscience.com/article/S1871-1413(12)00400-3/abstract


Lambs of two Swiss mountain breeds, Engadine Sheep (ES; n=55) and Valaisian Black Nose Sheep (VS; n=55), were fattened in 2010 and 2011 on one lowland and three alpine pastures. Groups of six to seven lambs per breed were allocated to pastures of a size allowing ad libitum intake on the following four vegetation types: (i) species-poor and nutrient-rich lowland (400 m a.s.l.) ryegrass–clover ley on flat terrain (‘lowland-rich’); (ii) alpine, species-rich and nutrient-rich vegetation type on a flat terrain (1950 m; ‘alpine-rich’); (iii) alpine, species-rich vegetation type, moderate in nutrients on steep terrain (2150 m; ‘alpine-moderate’); and (iv) alpine, species-rich and nutrient-poor vegetation type on steep terrain (2150 m; ‘alpine-poor’). Lambs were slaughtered after 9 weeks of grazing in a commercial slaughterhouse. Carcasses were subjected to the Swiss CH-TAX classification grid. Meat quality was analysed on the Musculus longissimus dorsi (LD) in the segment of Musculus longissimus lumborum. Forage quality varied among vegetation types as anticipated. Across all sites, ES were superior (P<0.001) to VS in dressing percentage (43.9 vs. 38.4), carcass weight (18.4 vs. 16.4 kg), meat conformation and fat cover scores, even though daily gains had been lower (105 vs. 122 g/d; P<0.05). Meat of ES contained more dry matter, protein, total ash (P<0.001) and fat (P<0.05). Their meat was darker and more intensive red, had lower cooking losses (23.0 vs. 25.1%) but was less tender (65.6 vs. 58.1 N) compared to VS (P<0.001). Vegetation types offering good quality forage (lowland-rich and alpine-rich) enhanced average daily gains, dressing percentage, meat conformation and fat cover scores (mostly P<0.05 against alpine-moderate and -poor). Similarly, a higher vegetation quality promoted a higher intramuscular fat and lower cooking losses. Meat from lowland-rich was darkest and had the lowest shear force (P<0.05). Almost no breed×site interactions occurred in growth performance as well as carcass and meat quality. It was therefore concluded that both breeds are similarly well adapted to the extensive pasture production system in alpine regions. Still, ES seem to be the more efficient one of the two sheep breeds. The results also indicate that growth performance and meat quality clearly vary between vegetation types in animals grazing alpine pastures.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Engadine Sheep, Valaisian Black Nose Sheep, Lamb, Forage, Breed, Fattening, Cooking loss, Shear force, Graslandbasierte Tierernährung, Grassland based livestock systems, Tierernährung, Animal nutrition
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Sheep and goats
Research affiliation: Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing
DOI:DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2012.10.015
Deposited By: Leiber, Dr. Florian
ID Code:26530
Deposited On:27 Jun 2014 09:48
Last Modified:03 Aug 2021 11:33
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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