Effect of the pre-slaughter logistic chain on meat quality of lambs

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A total of 144 lambs were sampled in a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial design, testing three residence (stay) times at a pre-slaughter classification centre (0, 7, and 28 days) and two seasons (summer and winter), with two replicates in each season. Meat from the longissimus dorsi was analysed in terms of pH, WHC, texture, colour (L∗a∗b∗, chroma and hue) and carcass bruising. Stay time had a significant effect (p < 0.001) on meat texture, while season had a significant effect (p < 0.001) on all variables analysed. Overall, stay time had less effect on meat quality than season and the interaction between treatments was not significant. Meat from lambs slaughtered in winter had some dark-cutting characteristics, with darker colour, higher ultimate pH, tougher meat and lower press juice. In conclusion, pre-slaughter classification and season are sources of stress for lambs and affect meat quality traits.