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Effects of early maternal separation of lambs and rearing with minimal and maximal human contact on meat quality

By F. Napolitano, M. Caroprese, A. Girolami, R. Marino, A. Muscio, A. Sevi

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The present study aims to assess the effect of gentling on behaviour and meat quality of lambs. Thirty-two Comisana lambs were divided into four groups of eight animals: ER (ewe reared), AR (artificially reared) and the corresponding gentled groups ERG and ARG. The provision of human contacts stimulated gentled subjects to explore, whereas the proportion of idling subjects was reduced (P<0.10). At increasing age the number of subjects contacting the person increased in the gentled groups (P<0.05). Lambs left with their dams showed higher warm and cold carcass yields compared to artificially reared animals, although animals benefiting from both maternal care and gentling, had the highest dressing percentage (P<0.05). Values of pH declined more rapidly in meat from gentled animals than from ungentled subjects (P<0.05), b* and h values were higher in ARG than in AR group (P<0.05), whereas Warner-Bratzler shear force and hardness tended to be lower in gentled lambs (P<0.15). We conclude that human-animal relationship can play an important role in affecting welfare, productive performances and meat quality of lambs, in particular when young subjects are prematurely separated from mothers.

Date 2006
Publication Title Meat Science
Volume 72
Issue 4
Pages 635-640
ISBN/ISSN 0309-1740
DOI 10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.09.013
Language English
Author Address Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Animali, Universita degli Studi della Basilicata, Via dell'Ateneo Lucano, 10-85100 Potenza, Italy.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Artificial rearing
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Carcasses
  6. Color
  7. Food quality
  8. Hand rearing
  9. Hydrogen
  10. Lambs
  11. Mammals
  12. Meat.
  13. Meat animals
  14. Meat production
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. performance traits
  17. Primates
  18. Ruminants
  19. Sheep
  20. texture
  1. peer-reviewed