Investigation of the variation in lamb meat quality on three winter finishing systems

Project number:                    7389

Lead contractor:                   ADAS, University of Bristol

Partners:                                   HCC, QMS

Start & end date:                   01 September 2007 – 30 June 2008


The Problem:

A 2004 report (Factors Affecting Lamb Eating Quality – SEERAD) highlighted the effect of season on the abnormal flavour of lamb, with a significant deterioration in flavour, quality and tenderness post Christmas.  This could be a reflection of breed, age, sex, system of production or diet, or a combination of these factors.  The key question is whether there is a system of production that delivers a level and consistency of eating quality through the winter months that would restore the retailer’s confidence in British lamb outside the main grazing season.


Project Aims:

  1. To investigate the variation in lamb meat quality from winter finishing on three diets.
  2. To produce information on different systems for producers finishing lambs.



180 mule x Texel lambs will be split into short-keep (for December finishing) and long- keep (for March finishing) groups.  These two groups will be further split into three diet groups: grass and concentrates, concentrates only and stubble turnips; so there will be six treatments with 30 lambs in each one.

Lambs will be selected at fat class 2-3L and between 18-21 kg.  Loin samples will be collected from 16 wether lambs from each treatment.  Loins will also be collected from 16 grass-fed British and 16 grass-fed New Zealand wether lambs.  A taste panel at Bristol University will be used to assess the eating quality of the 8 groups of lambs.



A final report will be produced by ADAS, and this will be converted into articles and press releases to disseminate the results of this trial.  The results could be used to change current practices used by lamb finishers or in procurement by British supermarkets.