The capability of alfalfa grazing- and concentrate-based feeding systems to produce homogeneous carcass quality in light lambs over time
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The effects of grazing on the carcasses and meat of light lambs are unclear, mainly due to variations in weather conditions and pasture production, which affect the growth of lambs and the quality of their carcasses. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of feeding systems, which varied in intensification due to the use of concentrate, on the growth and carcass traits of light lambs and the capability of these feeding systems to produce homogeneous lamb carcasses over the course of several years. The average daily weight gain of grazing lambs, but not lambs fed indoors was affected over years. The colour of the Rectus abdominis muscle and the amount of fat were more variable in grazing lambs (from 2.7 to 6.3) than indoor lambs (from 4.5 to 5.1). Grazing feeding systems without concentrate supplementation are more dependent than indoor feeding systems on the year. This climatologic dependence could lead to slaughter of older grazing lambs (77 days) to achieve the target slaughter weight when temperatures are low or the rainfall great. All feeding systems evaluated produced light lambs carcasses with a conformation score from O to R – that is required by the market. Even the potential change in fat colour found in both grazing treatments was not enough to change the subjective evaluation of fat colour.