Effects of the Texel muscling quantitative trait locus on carcass traits in crossbred lambs

J. M. Macfarlane, N. R. Lambe, S. C. Bishop, O. Matika, E. Rius-Vilarrasa, K. A. McLean, W. Haresign, B. T. Wolf, R. J. McLaren, L. Buenger

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Texel muscling quantitative trait locus (TM-QTL) is a QTL on chromosome 18, originally identified in purebred UK Texel sheep, which was reported to increase ultrasonically measured muscle depth at the third lumbar vertebra by around 4% to 7%. The objective of the present study was to comprehensively evaluate the TM-QTL and to determine whether it could provide benefits to the UK sheep industry through increased carcass meat yield in crossbred slaughter lambs. Effects of this QTL on a range of carcass traits, including those measured in vivo and by dissection, were evaluated in heterozygous carrier and non-carrier lambs produced by crossing heterozygous carrier Texel rams with non-carrier Mule (Bluetaced Leicester x Scottish Blackface) ewes from a lowland flock. The TM-QTL was found to increase loin muscling in crossbred lambs at a given live weight or carcass weight as measured by ultrasound, X-ray computed tomography (CT) and carcass dissection. Depth of M. longissimus lumborum (MLL) was greater in TM-QTL carrier lambs compared to non-carriers as measured by both ultrasound at the third lumbar vertebra (+43%, P = 0.033) and CT scanning at the fifth lumbar vertebra (+6.7%; P = 0.004). Width and area of MLL measured using CT were also greater in TM-QTL carrier lambs compared to non-carriers (+3.09%; P = 0.013 and + 5.1%; P = 0.047, respectively). Loin muscle volume measured using CT was greater in TM-QTL carriers than in non-carriers (+5.9916; P = 0.005) and the dissected weight of the MLL was + 7.1% greater in TM-QTL carriers compared to non-carriers (P < 0.001). The proportion of the total carcass lean meat yield (LMY) that was contained within the loin region was slightly higher in TM-QTL carriers than in non-carriers (0.154 v. 0.145; P = 0.006). However, TM-QTL was found to have no significant effect on the total weight or proportion of LMY or of saleable meat yield in the carcass measured by dissection, or on muscling in the hind leg measured by CT or dissection. This work has verified that the inheritance of TM-QTL is associated with increased loin muscling in crossbred lambs, as has previously been reported for purebred Texel lambs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-199
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Carcass
  • muscling
  • Sheep
  • Texel
  • QTL

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