Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Cruellest cut makes little difference to lamb quality - Teagasc

Stock photo
Stock photo
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

CASTRATING lambs makes little difference to meat quality, according to new Teagasc research.

There is no evidence for consistent 'off' flavour, or so-called 'ram taint', in the meat from ram lambs, said Teagasc's Noel Claffey after the a trial involving 100 Texel and Scottish Blackface crosses and Scottish Blackface breeds.

"There were a few extreme samples but they came from castrate and entire lambs," he said. "The entire animal will grow better, it will have a higher average gain, be more feed efficient and produce a carcass closer to the fat score of three," said Mr Claffey. In a consumer taste trial, the lamb from both the rams and castrates was liked, with lamb from castrates scoring slightly higher.

UCD/Teagasc PhD student Vasiliki Gkarane said there were only small differences in the eating quality between the two types.

Ms Gkarane said the lambs were born in March and slaughtered after a 36-day period on barley/maize-based concentrates between October and April.

The lamb meat was grilled and then analysed for their sensory qualities.

Dr Tim Keady told farmers at the Teagasc Sheep Open Day in Athenry that they had also put meat from entire lambs in the lowland flock at six months of age in front of taste panels. There was no difference in the panel's verdict on odour or overall liking for the meat compared to the meat from the castrated lambs.

"A lot of people can get passionate about it one way or the other," he said, emphasising consumers do not want to see too much fat on lamb meat, and rams were leaner.

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"We have not castrated any lambs here at the research farm for the last 10 years," said Dr Keady, adding studies have show "no evidence of any negative impact on meat-eating quality".

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