Genetic and Nutritional Factors Determining the Production and Quality of Sheep Meat – A Review

Jan Knapik 1 , Katarzyna Ropka-Molik 2 , and Marek Pieszka 3
  • 1 Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, National Research Institute of Animal Production, 32-083 Balice n. Kraków, Poland
  • 2 Department of Genomics and Animal Molecular Biology, National Research Institute of Animal Production, 32-083 Balice n. Kraków, Poland
  • 3 Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, National Research Institute of Animal Production, 32-083 Balice n. Kraków, Poland

Abstract

In the last 20 years, the importance of sheep and especially lamb meat as the main product of the sheep industry in European conditions increased noticeably. In the same period, people’s interest in food quality grew. This contributed to a significant intensification of research to improve the meat production and quality traits in sheep. The aim of the research performed mainly focuses on the effects of nutrition, the environmental and genetic factors on the value of fattening, slaughter and meat quality characteristics. Much of the research concentrates on determining the fatty acid profile of intramuscular fat, which is important for sensory traits and dietetic value of lamb. Modulation of healthy qualities of lamb is aimed, inter alia, to modify the fatty acid profile, in particular to maintain the proper ratio of polyunsaturated (PUFA ) to saturated fatty acids (SFA). It is also desirable to increase the content of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Furthermore, it has been proven that changes in the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism are associated with the change in lipid profile in skeletal muscle. The aim of this review was to summarize the information currently available about the influence of genetic and nutritional factors on meat production and quality traits in different sheep breeds.

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