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A Texel muscling quantitative trait locus (TM-QTL) has been identified on chromosome 18, which increases loin muscling, but may also have a negative impact on mechanically-measured loin tenderness in crossbred lambs, depending on conditioning time. This study investigated the influence of a range of conditioning times (3, 5, 7 or 9 days) on the effect of TM-QTL on loin muscle tenderness. Using Texel rams heterozygous for TM-QTL, mated to non-carrier Mule ewes, heterozygous (n = 45) and wild-type (n = 50) crossbred lambs were produced. Weight of the valuable Longissimus lumborum muscle was higher in TM-QTL carriers than non-carriers, when compared at a fixed age (+11.5%; P = 0.038), with the same trend at a fixed carcass weight (+10.2%; P = 0.064). Toughness, measured by shear force, was significantly higher in samples from TM-QTL carriers than non-carriers, after conditioning for 3 days (P = 0.002), 5 days (P = 0.003) or 7 days (P = 0.03), but was not significantly different after 9 days of conditioning (P = 0.32). Compared to non-carrier lambs, the proportion of samples above consumer acceptability thresholds for toughness was greater in the TM-QTL carrier lambs after 3 and 5 days of conditioning, similar at 7 days, but lower at 9 days. The results suggest that the negative effect of TM-QTL on loin tenderness in crossbred lambs can be overcome by conditioning for more than 7 days. Marketing of TM-QTL carrier lambs through companies that use enhanced processing protocols could be beneficial, due to higher loin muscle weights, without negative effects on meat quality. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- lambs meat eating quality meat quality muscularity QTL Texel