Date of this Version
Macfarlane, Lewis, Emmans, Young & Simm in Journal of Animal Science (2009) 87. doi:10.2527/jas.2007-0832
The utility of x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning in predicting carcass tissue distribution and fat partitioning in vivo in terminal sire sheep was examined using data from 160 lambs representing combinations of 3 breeds (Charollais, Suffolk, and Texel), 3 genetic lines, and both sexes. One-fifth of the lambs were slaughtered at each of 14, 18, and 22 wk of age, and the remaining two-fifths at 26 wk of age. The left side of each carcass was dissected into 8 joints with each joint dissected into fat (intermuscular and subcutaneous), lean, and bone. Chemical fat content of the LM was measured. Tissue distribution was described by proportions of total carcass tissue and lean weight contained within the leg, loin, and shoulder regions of the carcass and within the higher-priced joints. Fat partitioning variables included proportion of total carcass fat contained in the subcutaneous depot and intramuscular fat content of the LM. Before slaughter, all lambs were CT scanned at 7 anatomical positions (ischium, midshaft of femur, hip, second and fifth lumbar vertebrae, sixth and eighth thoracic vertebrae). Areas of fat, lean, and bone (mm2) and average fat and lean density (Hounsfield units) were measured from each cross-sectional scan. Areas of intermuscular and subcutaneous fat were measured on 2 scans (ischium and eighth thoracic vertebra). Intramuscular fat content was predicted with moderate accuracy (R2 = 56.6) using information from only 2 CT scans. Four measures of carcass tissue distribution were predicted with moderate to high accuracy: the proportion of total carcass (R2 = 54.7) and lean (R2 = 46.2) weight contained in the higher-priced joints and the proportion of total carcass (R2 = 77.7) and lean (R2 = 55.0) weight in the leg region. Including BW in the predictions did not improve their accuracy (P > 0.05). Although breed-line-sex combination significantly affected fit of the regression for some tissue distribution variables, the values predicted were changed only trivially. Within terminal sire type animals, using a common set of prediction equations is justified. Tissue distribution and fat partitioning affect eating satisfaction and efficiency of production and processing; therefore, including such carcass quality measures in selection programs is increasingly important, and CT scanning appears to provide opportunities to do so.