Breeding lamb for shelf life
From the August 2011 edition of Agriculture Today.
It is likely that breeding can play a role in improving the stability of meat colour on retail display.
Researcher, Dr Sue Mortimer, says this would help to delay the time when consumers would regard the meat as unacceptably brown.
A recent survey showed about 40 per cent of consumers would not buy lamb from a butcher that appeared brown.
“Consumers associate freshness and quality of meat with redness,” Dr Mortimer said.
Browning cuts decrease in shelf life and butchers and retailers often discount, so as not to display them for more than two days.
“Redness during retail display and the rate of browning have been found to be of moderate heritability,” Dr Mortimer said.
Selection to alter retail meat colour is likely to breed lambs whose meat is less susceptible to browning on the butchery shelf.
“DPI researchers at Cowra led by Dr David Hopkins have already developed lamb nutrition, processing and retail options to reduce browning,” Dr Mortimer said.
“We are now confident that breeding should be combined with these options to enhance shelf life.”
Flocks at the Cowra and Trangie agricultural research stations are contributing to this research by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC).
Progeny of these flocks are part of the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus (IN) flock.
Dr Mortimer is analysing data from the IN flocks to evaluate level of inheritance (heritability) of a range of meat colour traits and the genetic relationships among them, and with other aspects of production and quality.
She is working with researchers from the Sheep CRC’s Next Generation Meat Quality Program, who have measured the changes in meat colour of loins, taken from more than 3300 IN progeny across three drops, over a three day period of simulated retail display.
“The information used for these conventional genetic analyses combined with genomic information derived from molecular genetic analyses will assist in the development of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) by Sheep Genetics,” she said.
“With tools such as ASBVs, breeders will firstly be able to monitor their breeding programs for any changes that may occur in traits related to the retail meat colour stability of lamb they produce.”
Then, if necessary, they may modify their breeding programs to minimise any unfavourable changes that have occurred.
The IN flock is supported by Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, industry representatives, processors and research agencies from NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Contact Dr Sue Mortimer, Trangie, (02) 6880 8008, firstname.lastname@example.org