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A comparison of the effects of white clover (Trifolium repens) and of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) on fat composition and flavour of lamb

  • D. A. Cramer (a1), R. A. Barton (a2), F. B. Shorland (a3) and Z. Czochanska (a3)

1. The carcass composition, the composition and characteristics of the subcutaneous and longissimus dorsi muscle fats, the volatile fatty acids of the rumen-reticulum fluid and the degree of flavour and odour of the cooked 12th rib chops of two groups each of fifteen Southdown–Romney cross ewe and wether lambs fed respectively white clover and perennial ryegrass have been determined. The lambs had been on treatment for 5 months and were slaughtered when about 9 months of age.

2. The white clover-fed lambs had a mean live weight at slaughter of 94 lb ± 9 lb compared with 67 lb ± 7 lb for the perennial ryegrass-fed lambs. The carcasses of the white clover-fed lambs had greater (P < 0·01) amounts of fat.

3. The iodine values of the subcutaneous fats of the white clover-fed lambs were highly significantly greater than those of the ryegrass-fed lambs and this result was consistent with the greater deposition of endogenous fat.

4. The extra fatness of the white clover-fed lambs was consistent with their greater production of rumen-reticulum volatile fatty acids.

5. The maj or differences in fatty acid composition of subcutaneous and intramuscular fats between pasture treatments were the highly significant increases in shorter-chain saturated and C15 branched-chain acids of the ryegrass-fed lambs. In addition, the subcutaneous fat of the ryegrass group contained highly significantly more octadecadienoic and octadecatrienoic acids while the 1. dorsi fat of the ryegrass group was highly significantly richer in stearic and oleic acids.

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