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South African Journal of Animal Science

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4062
versão impressa ISSN 0375-1589

S. Afr. j. anim. sci. vol.52 no.1 Pretoria  2022 



Effects of breed and fattening system on fatty acid and chemical composition of meat from male lambs



M. SariI, #; Y. AksoyII; H. EringIII; K. ÖnkIV; S. A. IsikIV; M. TilkiV

IDepartment of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Kir§ehir Ahi Evran University, 40100, Kirsehir, Turkey
IIDepartment of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Eskisehir Osmangazi University, 26160, Eskisehir, Turkey
IIIDepartment of Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Nigde Ömer Halis Demir University, 51240, Nigde, Turkey
IVDepartment of Animal Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafkas University, 36000, Kars, Turkey
VDepartment of Veterinary, Macka Vocational School, Karadeniz Technical University, 61750, Trabzon, Turkey




The purpose of this study was to examine the fatty acid and chemical composition of the Longissimus dorsi (LD) from male Tuj and Hemsin lambs reared in extensive, semi-intensive and intensive feeding systems. At the end of 90 days eight lambs from each breed and feeding system were slaughtered to determine chemical composition, and six lambs in each group were selected at random to assess fatty acid composition. Breed and feeding system interaction affected the quantities of saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and the atherogenic (AI), thrombogenic (TI), and nutritive value (NVI) indices. In Hemsin the ratio of PUFA to SFA was higher in lambs fed in the extensive system than those produced in the semi-intensive and intensive systems, which were similar, whereas in Tuj this ratio decreased from the extensive to semi-intensive to intensive feeding systems. The ratio of omega n-6 to omega n-3 fatty acids was lower in the extensive and semi-intensive systems than it was in intensively fed Hemsin lambs, but increased with the intensity of feeding in Tuj lambs. Intramuscular fat content was higher in Hemsin lambs than in Tuj lambs and increased with the intensity of the feeding system. Conjugated linoleic acid content (CLA) was affected by feeding system in Hemsin lambs, but not in Tuj lambs. Because of their high PUFA/SFA ratio and low TI value, Tuj lambs reared in extensive feeding system were deemed to have the best performance.

Keywords: feeding intensity, health indicies, management, meat quality




To have adequate balanced nutrition and maintain a healthy life, 40 - 50% of human daily protein consumption should be of animal origin (Yilmaz & Yilmaz, 2012; Seving: & Enjokun, 2020). In Turkey, the daily protein consumption per person is 108 g, and only 36% of this is of animal origin. Thus the Turkish people are far behind those in developed countries in consumption of animal protein (Dogan, 2019; TÍGEM, 2019).

Sheep, a red meat source of protein, has 9.1% share of total red meat production in Turkey (TurkStat, 2021). Meat from lambs is preferred by Turkish consumers, and lamb production is the primary source of income for sheep breeders. Lamb meat is favoured by consumers because of its distinctive taste, smell, pinkish colour, short cooking time, and vitamin, mineral, and essential PUFA contents (Enser et al., 1996; Wood et al., 1999; Ponnampalam et al., 2016; Junkuszew et al., 2020). N-3 and n-6 fatty acids reduce the cholesterol level in the blood, especially triglycerides, and increase the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease (Feldman et al., 1999; Öztürk, 2014; Qelebi et al., 2017; Aksoy et al., 2021). Omega n-3 and omega n-6 essential fatty acids help to prevent other diseases such as respiratory ailments, depression, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer (Simopoulos, 2002; Junkuszew et al., 2020). On the other hand, saturated fatty acids hinder the clearance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood and increase the risk of atherosclerosis (Öztürk, 2014). For example, myristic (C14:0) and palmitic (C16:0) acids increase blood LDL, whereas stearic acid (C18:0) decreases it (Williams, 2000; Junkuszew et al., 2020). For this reason, many researchers have stated that the n-6 to n-3 ratio in the diet should be from 5 : 1 to 3 : 1 and that of PUFA to SFA should be higher than 0.45 (Wood et al., 1999; Ribeiro et al., 2011; Aksoy et al., 2021).

Conjugated linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid, includes the geometric and positional isomers of linoleic acid (Williams, 2000; Eynard & Lopez, 2003; Kurban & Mehmetoglu, 2006; Demirok & Kolsarici, 2010; Ulus & Gücükoglu, 2017). It increases immune system function, has anti-carcinogenic effects, and inhibits the development of arteriosclerosis, thus having beneficial effects in terms of human health (Ulus & Gücükoglu, 2017; den Hartigh, 2019). Additional effects of CLA include reducing body fat and insulin resistance, supporting the immune system, and increasing bone density and muscle mass (Kurban & Mehmetoglu, 2006; Qelebi & Kaya, 2008; Lehnen et al., 2015; Ulus & Gücükoglu, 2017; Yilmaz & §anlier, 2017). The CLA isomers 9-cis, 11-trans are formed by bacterial hydrogenation of dietary linoleic acid in ruminants (Williams, 2000; Kurban & Mehmetoglu, 2006; Demirok & Kolsarici, 2010). Therefore, CLA is higher in meat from ruminant animals (Lehnen et al., 2015). When fresh beef, veal, and lamb were evaluated, the highest CLA ratio was found in lamb meat (approximately 5.6 mg g-1 fat) (Kurban & Mehmetoglu, 2006; Schmid et al., 2006). The importance of lamb meat increases daily because of its high CLA and PUFA contents and because of consumer preferences for easy cooking, low loss, healthy meat. Therefore, researchers often focus on tissue fatty acid composition in lamb meats.

Tissue fatty acid composition in lambs is affected by factors such as feeding and production system (Cividini et al., 2014; Ekiz et al., 2019), slaughter weight (Yakan & Ünal, 2010; Aksoy & Ulutas, 2016; Ekiz et al., 2019), breed (Aksoy et al., 2019; Budimir et al., 2020), gender (Horcada-Ibánez et al., 2009; VnuCec et al., 2016), and the muscle being analysed (Horcada-Ibánez et al., 2009; Aksoy et al., 2019). Few studies describe the fatty acid composition of Hemsin and Tuj lambs in reared in different production systems. This study was carried out to determine the tissue fatty acid composition of the LD muscle from Hemsin and Tuj lambs produced in extensive, semi-intensive and intensive feeding systems.


Material and Methods

Approval was received by the Animal Experiments Local Ethics Committee of Kafkas University (Decision no: KAUHADYEK/2011-10). The study was conducted at the Application and Research Farm of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafkas University for 90 days in the summer of 2012.

Male Hemsin lambs (n = 24), weaned at the age of three months, were purchased from Artvin province. Male Tuj lambs (n = 24), weaned at the age of three months, were obtained from Kafkas University Veterinary Faculty farm. Ten days after they had been apapted to pasture and concentrate mixture, the study randomly assigned eight lambs of each breed to the extensive, semi-intensive and intensive feeding systems. Medication against internal and external parasites was given lambs prior to the study. Lambs assigned to the extensive system were pasture fed for eight hours a day. Those in the semi-intensive sytem grazed on pasture and were given concentrate feed ad libitum. The lambs in the intensive system were given concentrate feed ad libitum and 270 g grass hay daily. The nutritive content of the pasture was determined periodically by mowing it to collect samples of the forage. Dry matter, organic matter, crude ash, crude protein, crude fat, crude cellulose, and nitrogen free extract contents were determined as prescribed by AOAC (1990). The nutrient profile of the pasture is presented in Table 1.

Average daily gain of Hemsin lambs in the extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems was 121 g, 202 g and 213 g, respectively. Daily live weight gain of Tuj lambs in the extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems was 118 g, 230 g and 221 g, respectively. The average concentrate feed consumptions of Hemsin and Tuj lambs per animal in the semi-intensive and intensive systems were 700 g and 1140 g. The

concentrate feed consisted of 17.10% CP and 2910 kcal kg-1 metabolizable energy (NRC, 1985) and was prepared by a commercial company. Roughage was obtained from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine farm.

After 90 days, eight randomly chosen lambs from each group were slaughtered to determine the chemical composition of the LD. In addition, six lambs in each group were randomly selected to assess the fatty acid content of the LD. After slaughter, the carcasses were kept at 4 °C for 24 hours. The LD muscle was then removed. The average slaughter weight of Hemsin and Tuj lambs in the extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems were 32.45 and 31.00 kg, 43.17 and 41.67 kg, and 41.48 and 39.67 kg, respectively.

To determine fatty acid composition, 100 g LD muscle was removed and the fatty and connective tissues were detached with chloroform and methanol (2 : 1) and cold extraction (Folch et al., 1957). After extraction, the triglyceride fatty acid was obtained in the lipid and converted into methyl ester (Anonymous, 1987). The fatty acid content of the LD muscle was analysed with a SHIMADZU - G 2010 Plus (Japan) gas chromatography device and a DB - 23 silica capillary column (60 m x 0.25 mm I.D. and 0.25 μηι film thickness). Injector, column and detector heats were 230, 190 and 240 °C, respectively. Split ratio was 60 to 1. Carrier gas was helium at 0.5 mL/min ratio. Supelco 37 FAME mixture (C4-C24) and CLA 9t,11t, CLA 9c,11t and CLA 10t,12c (Sigma Aldrich) were used as external standards to identify the fatty acid. CLA 9t, 11t was not detected in all samples. Therefore total CLA was reported herein as the sum of CLA 9c,11t and CLA 10t,12c. The results were expressed as weight percentage (g per 100 g total fatty acid). The AI, TI, and NVI were calculated according to Garaffo et al. (2011) and Yakan and Ünal (2010).

The LD muscle samples were ground and then homogenized to determine the chemical composition. The DM, CP, and ash contents of the samples were measured according to the AOAC (1990). The intramuscular fat (IMF) content was assessed using the method of Okeudo and Moss (2007).

The data were analysed using the general linear model procedure of SPSS release 12 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinios, USA). The model included the effects of breed, feeding system and two-factor interaction. Duncan's test was used to detect the differences between mean values. Effects were considered significant at the 0.05 level of probability.


Results and Discussion

Table 2 presents the means for the two-factor interaction of breed and feeding system for individual fatty acids. This was significant for eight of the 18 individual fatty acids. Least squares means for the main effects could be calculated by averaging the appropriate means reported in the table. On average, the concentration of palmitic acid (C16:0) increased with the intensity of the feeding system and was higher in Hemsin than Tuj lambs. In Hemsin lambs the concentration of stearic acid (C18:0) was similar when they were raised in the extensive and semi-intensive feeding systems, but increased under intensive management. In contrast, the Tuj lambs exhibited similar quantities of stearic acid in the extensive and intensive systems, but this was reduced under semi-intensive management. In Hemsin lambs the concentrations of oleic acid (C18:1) were similar when they were raised under semi-intensive and intensive systems, but reduced for those in the extensive system. In contrast, the quantities of C18:1 in the Tuj increased with the intensity of the feeding system.

Table 3 shows the effect of the breed by feeding system interaction on various indicies of the individual fatty acids. The AI indicates the relationship between SFAs that favour the adhesion of lipids to cells in the immune and circulatory systems to the MUFA and n-3 and n-6 PUFA, which inhibit aggregation of plaque and prevent the coronary diseases. In this study, the AI of the Tuj lambs was little affected by the intensity of the feeding system, whereas the Hemsin lambs showed increased AI as the intensity of the feeding system rose from extensive to semi-intensive to intensive. The TI is somewhat similar to the AI and indicates the tendency to form clots in blood vessels (Ulbricht & Southgate 1991; Vacca et al., 2008). The TI increased with the intensity of the feeding system in both breeds, but the increase was larger and its levels were generally higher in Hemsin lambs than in Tuj lambs. The NVI refelcts the ratio of C18 fatty acids to C16:0 SFA and as such may indicate differences in the partioning of energy from these major dietary sources of fat. The NVI of fat from the LD of Hemsin lambs was higher in the extensive system than in the semi-intensive and intensive systems, which were similar to each other. In contrast, the Tuj lambs had higher NVI under extensive and intensive management and lower when reared in the semi-intensive system.

Table 4 shows the results for chemical composition of LD. The interaction of breed and feeding system was not significant, excpet for the CP content of the LD. For the Tuj lambs, CP content of their LD muscle was lowest when they were reared in the extensive system and higher in the semi-intensive and intensive systems which were similar. The CP content of the LD from the Hemsin lambs was not affected by the feeding system. Breed had signifcant effects on IMF and moisture (or conversely DM) content of the LD with Hemsin lambs having a drier muscle with more IMF than Tuj lambs. The feeding system also affected IMF and the moisture content of the LD with both IMF and dry matter content increasing as the feeding system was intensified.

The current study revealed that the fatty acid composition of the LD muscle was generally affected by the interaction of breed and feeding system. More than 80% of total fatty acid content of the muscle was composed of C14:0, C16:0, C18:0, and C18:1 which was similar to the results of Karaca (2010). Qelik and Yilmaz (2010) found that the effect of breed (Awasi and Turkish Merino x Awasi F1) on fatty acid composition was not significant. However, Demirel et al. (2006) found that the difference between the Sakiz and Kivircik breeds was significant. The SFA values of Hemsin and Tuj lambs in this study were higher than those reported by Qelik and Yilmaz, (2010). The SFA value of Hemsin breed in this study was parallel with that reported by Aksoy and Ulutas (2016) for the Karayaka breed in a serial slaughter experiment. However, SFA value of Tuj breed in the present study was lower than in the Karayaka (Aksoy & Ulutas, 2016). Findings in the present study for the SFA and IMF contents were higher in the Hemsin lambs compared those of the Tuj breed. This may be because the Tuj lambs have fat accumulations localized around the femur and tail, whereas Hemsin lambs have a long tail with a small amount of fat at the tailhead (Uzun et al., 2006)

In the present study, the highest SFA content was observed lambs that were fed in the intensive system. Furthermore, the SFA values identified in all of three feeding system were higher than those presented by Önenc et al. (2015) for Sakiz lambs reared under traditional and intensive systems. However, the SFA contents were tem were lower than those found by Diaz et al. (2002) for Talaverana reared in pasture or intensive groups, and those of Yarali & Karaca (2013) for Karya in all three feeding systems. The SFA values for lambs fed in the intensive system were similar to the results of Güler et al. (2011) for Akkaraman fed with concentrate. However, the SFA value of extensive was lower than reported by Güler et al. (2011) for pasture-reared mbs.

The MUFA values in this study were lower than those observed by Önenc et al. (2015) for pasture-fed Sakiz lambs fed concentrate. The MUFA values of extensive and intensive system groups were higher than those determined by Diaz et al. (2002) for Talaverana reared in pasture and and those in an intensively managed group, but parallel with the results of Güler et al. (2011) for Akkaraman when managed similarly. The C16:1, C17:1, C21:1 and MUFA values identified for Hemsin and Tuj in the present study were lower than those reported by Yarali & Karaca (2013) and Karabacak et al. (2014). On the other hand, C16:1 and C21:1 values of Hemsin and Tuj breeds were higher than the values determined by Karabacak (2015) for Akkaraman sheep.

In contrast to MUFA, lambs in the extensive system had the highest PUFA value. In the present study, the carboxylic acid (C18:3) content of the lambs in extensive group was higher than in semi-intensive and IN. Diaz et al. (2005) found that C18:3 values in pasture-fed lambs in Uruguay were the highest (3.37%). Similarly, C18:3 content was moderate in German and English meat lambs fed with pasture and abundant feed. Yousefi et al. (2012) reported that the fat-tailed Chall lambs had higher PUFA values than Zel lambs. The PUFA values in this study were higher than those reported for Malya (Karabacak et al., 2013), Daglic (Karabacak et al., 2014), Akkaraman (Karabacak, 2015), Bafra (Yakan & Ünal, 2010), and Karacabey Merino (Gecgel et al., 2015) breeds. The PUFA contents observed in lambs from the extensive system in this study were lower than those reported by Cividini et al. (2014) for the Jezersko-Solcava breed reared on pasture, but higher than they reported for lambs in the intensive system.

In this study, the lambs fed in the extensive and semi-intensive systems had higher CLA content than those lambs that were reared intensively and the CLA contents of Hemsin were higher than those of Tuj. Nuernberg et al. (2008) reported that the CLA content of pasture-fed lambs was higher than those fed intensively. Diaz et al. (2005) found that English lambs had a higher CLA value (1.05%) than was observed for either breed of lambs in the present study, regardless of the feeding system under which they were managed.

In recent years, red meats have been criticized by the consumers because of possible risk to cardiovascular health from their consumption (Wood et al., 1999; Nuernberg et al., 2008; Aksoy & Ulutas, 2016). Among all the fatty acids, n-3 fatty acids reduce LDL in the blood and thus decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. Following the findings of Okeudo and Moss (2007) and Vacca et al. (2008), the Turkish Department Health (1994) recommended that the PUFA/SFA ratio should be greater than 0.45 and that of n-6 to n-3 fatty acid should be less than 4 in human diets. The PUFA to SFA ratios of the Hemsin and Tuj breeds in this study were higher than those reported by Yakan and Ünal (2010) for Bafra sheep and by Aksoy and Ulutas (2016) for Karayaka when slaughtered at 30, 35, and 40 kg. Additionally, the PUFA/SFA content of IN in this study was higher than that reported by Gecgel et al. (2015) for Karacabey Merino and by Yarali and Karaca (2013) for Karya reared under intensive systems. Similar to the present results, Santos-Silva et al. (2002) reported the n-6/n-3 relationship in lambs on an extensive system was lower than those in semi-intensive and intensive systems. The n-6 to n-3 ratio in this study for lambs reared in the extensive system was similar to that reported by Yarali and Karaca (2013) for Karya lambs reared under extensive and semi-intensive management, and higher than was reported by Güler et al. (2011) for pasture-fed Akkaraman sheep. The n-6/n-3 ratio of lambs from this study in the intensive group was higher than that reported by Yarali and Karaca (2013) for Karya and lower than that reported by Güler et al. (2011) for Akkaraman lambs reared similarly.

The AI values observed in this study for the two breeds in the three systems were lower than those reported by Salvatori et al. (2004) for crossbred lambs reared extensively and slaughtered at 64 days old, by Oriani et al. (2005) for lambs slaughtered at various ages, and by Vacca et al. (2008) for various breeds. These differences may be alternative manifestations of the interaction of breed and feeding system observed in the current study. The TI value of lambs in the intensive system of this study was lower than was reported by Yakan and Ünal (2010) for Bafra slaughtered at 30 - 35 kg and higher than those slaughtered at 40 - 45 kg. In this study, the highest SFA, AI, and TI values were observed for intensively fed lambs in both breeds, presumably because of the increase in IMF with the consumption of more concentrate feed.

The IMF contents of the Hemsin and Tuj lambs were lower than those of Esenbuga et al. (2009) for Awasi and Morkaraman lambs, despite their having similar ash and CP contents. Likewise, the moisture contents of the meat from Hemsin and Tuj lambs were similar to values reported by Caneque et al. (2004) for Manchego sheep and Esenbuga et al. (2001) for Morkaraman, Tuj, and Awasi x Tuj crosses. Additionally, the IMF content of lambs in the extensive and intensive groups was lower than reported by Priolo et al. (2002) for Ile de France lambs reared similarly. The IMF and CP contents of the LD from lambs reared in the extensive system were lower than those reported by Steinshamn et al. (2010) for lambs grazing mountain pasture. However, the ash, DM, and CP contents of meat from lambs in the intensive group were parallel with those reported by Sen et al. (2011) for similarly reared Karayaka lambs. But, IMF content detected in the present study was lower than was reported by Sen et al. (2011) for Karayaka lambs. Although the IMF content of Hemsin lambs was higher than that of Tuj lambs, their meat was drier. In this study, breed and feeding system interaction did not affect the IMF, ash, and DM contents, but did influence the CP content.



Tuj lambs reared in the extensive system were deemed to have performed best because of their favourable PUFA/SFA ratio and low TI value. However, this assessment is tempered because these lambs had a lower CP content in the LD muscle.



The data in this study were obtained from projects supported by TUBITAK (number: 111 O 456) and Kafkas University Scientific Research Projects (number: 2012 - VF - 56). The authors gratefully acknowledge TUBiTAK and Kafkas University SRP for the financial contribution in every phase of the study. In addition, part of the study was presented at the Fifth National Zootechny Congress in Burdur, Turkey.


Authors' Contributions

MS, KÖ and MT designed the experiment. MS, YA, KÖ, HE, SAI, and MT collected the data. MS and YA performed the statistical analysis. MS, YA and KÖ wrote the paper. All authors reviewed and approved the manuscript.


Conflicts of Interest Declaration

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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Submitted 17 February 2021
Accepted 4 November 2021
Published 10 February 2022



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