CT scanner used to improve lamb
Published 19/05/2010 | 18:01
A CT scanner is being used on sheep to improve the quality of meat they produce, scientists said.
The scanner, previously used to diagnose human ailments in a hospital, is being used by researchers at the University of Nottingham who are keen to help farmers breed better quality sheep.
The test involves strapping a sedated sheep to a gurney, complete with a cushion to rest its head on, before passing it through the doughnut-shaped machine.
A cross-section of the animal then appears on a radiologist's monitor, which shows its fat, muscle and bone content.
Farmers want to breed sheep which have less fat and more muscle in order to improve the quality of meat available in supermarkets and at butchers.
Dr Kevin Sinclair, a professor in developmental biology at the university, told the BBC: "One argument for lamb becoming less popular as a meat is because people complain about it being too fatty.
"Breeders are increasingly testing their animals for leanness and this does it with pinpoint accuracy."
The technique was initially developed by academics at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh and is now being used by scientists in Nottingham.
It is understood the technology has already improved the yield of some flocks.