Ultrasound imaging has proved a very useful tool for the modern animal breeder wishing to improve carcass composition. However, more accurate imaging technologies, such as X-ray Computer Tomography (CT), could accelerate genetic improvement of carcass composition, and widen the range of traits assessed (e.g. by considering deeper tissues). Carcass quality is assuming more importance for breeders but quality traits are difficult to assess objectively and accurately in live sheep. The present study was designed to identify a few CT scan positions from which accurate prediction of dissected tissue weights could be made in meat sheep.
One hundred Suffolk lambs (50 of each sex) were CT scanned and slaughtered at 14, 18, 22 or 26 weeks of age (59±16kg LW, range 20-96kg). Each animal was scanned at seven sites; three in the gigot (ISC, caudal ischium; FEM, mid-shaft of femur; HIP, hip joint), two in the loin (LV5 and LV2, 5th and 2nd lumbar vertebrae) and two in the chest/ shoulder (TV8 and TV6, 8th and 6th thoracic vertebrae).