Cowra lambs top health benefits list
From the October 2010 edition of Agriculture Today.
These lambs at the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station are thriving on lush spring pasture. Lambs from the site have been shown to have the highest levels of beneficial omega-3 in a national study which aims to increase the health benefits of Australian lamb.
Cowra lambs have produced the highest levels of beneficial omega-3 in the first national snapshot of long chain omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb meat.
Industry & Investment NSW principal research scientist, David Hopkins, said the project, run by the Co-operative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), showed that local lamb is a healthy choice for Australian consumers.
“Sheep CRC scientists measured the omega-3 content of lamb covering sire lines, genotypes and major production systems in Australia,” Dr Hopkins said.
“Early data from the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus (IN) project shows that while feed choice is the primary driver, genetics, particularly sire selection, also impacts on the development of omega-3 fatty acids.
“To reduce the risk of chronic disease, Australians need to increase their intake of essential fatty acids and we’re working with the industry to boost levels in lamb.”
Dr Hopkins said nutritional surveys show that red meat already contributes almost as much as seafood to the nation’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids due to the higher percentage of red meat in most Australian’s diets.
“With another 4000 lambs under analysis, the data will represent the most comprehensive study of lamb meat’s omega-3 levels in the world.
“Early results of the study were presented in Korea this August at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology and we aim to use the project to strengthen the science behind red meat production over the next three years.”
In flocks from across the country, Cowra, Armidale, Rutherglen, Hamilton, Turretfield, Struan and Katanning, are providing the progeny for the project.
Cowra lambs grazed quality lucerne and perennial pastures, with other sites using a variety of production systems, from annual pasture and supplementary pellets to a predominantly grain diet - lupins, barley, oats, triticale and barley grass.
Progeny tested were terminal cross Merino ewes and wethers, Border Leicester cross merino wethers and terminal cross Border Leicester cross Merino ewes and wethers.
The Sheep CRC IN project is supported by Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, industry representatives, processors and research agencies in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Contact Dr David Hopkins, Cowra (02) 6349 9722.