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A consumer study of the effect of castration and slaughter age of lambs on the sensory quality of meat
2018-12, Gravador, Rufielyn S., Pace, Elaine, Mooney, Bernard R., Gkarane, Vasiliki, Fahey, Alan G., Brunton, Nigel P., Claffey, Noel A., Monahan, Frank J., et al.
Meat from ram lambs is often considered inferior to meat from castrated lambs, especially in older or heavier animals. This study aimed to determine if differences exist in the sensory quality and acceptability of meat from rams and castrates, slaughtered at mean ages of 196 or 385 days. Rams had higher average daily gain, feed conversion efficiency, total weight gain and lower carcass fatness than castrates. A triangle test (n = 81 consumers) showed a difference (P < 0.05) in the sensory quality of meat from rams vs castrates. A 9-point hedonic test involving 100 consumers showed that, although meat from both rams and castrates was ‘liked’, meat from castrates scored higher (P < 0.05) in Overall Liking, Flavour Liking and Tenderness Liking. Meat from castrates was also rated lower (P < 0.05) in Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity. Flavour Intensity and Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity increased (P < 0.05) with age at slaughter. This consumer study revealed that while meat from castrates was higher in Overall Liking, Flavour Liking and Tenderness Liking and lower in Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity than meat from rams, both meats were ‘liked’ by consumers.