Genetic parameters for meat quality traits of Australian lamb meat
Genetic parameters were estimated for a range of meat quality traits recorded on Australian lamb meat. Data were collected from Merino and crossbred progeny of Merino, terminal and maternal meat breed sires of the Information Nucleus programme. Lambs born between 2007 and 2010 (n = 8968) were slaughtered, these being the progeny of 372 sires and 5309 dams. Meat quality traits were found generally to be of moderate heritability (estimates between 0.15 and 0.30 for measures of meat tenderness, meat colour, polyunsaturated fat content, mineral content and muscle oxidative capacity), with notable exceptions of intramuscular fat (0.48), ultimate pH (0.08) and fresh meat colour a* (0.08) and b* (0.10) values. Genetic correlations between hot carcass weight and the meat quality traits were low. The genetic correlation between intramuscular fat and shear force was high (−0.62). Several measures of meat quality (fresh meat redness, retail meat redness, retail oxy/met value and iron content) appear to have potential for inclusion in meat sheep breeding objectives.