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Australian prime lamb- a vision for 2020

Dave Pethick , R.G. Banks, J. Hales, I.R. Ross

Abstract


\"This article describes the evolution of the prime lamb industry from the 1980s to the present and proposes a path for the future until 2020. In terms of income generated, the industry was floundering in the 1980s, but income increased rapidly after the late 1990s. The increase in the value of the industry was underpinned by a shift to a focus on the consumer demand and implemented by improvements in genetics, farm management and marketing. Current genetic improvement is mainly driven by improvement of carcase weight; future improvements will be derived from a reduction in fatness and an increase in muscle. The influence of genetic selection for leanness and muscle on muscle structure is discussed. It is concluded that selection and management strategies should focus on maintaining muscle with an aerobic metabolism, as this will optimise the organoleptic qualities and nutrient content of meat, which have significant implications for human health. Fat metabolism is discussed in relation to opportunities for maintaining intramuscular fat levels, reducing saturated fat content of lamb and increasing the long-chain omega-3 content of lamb. Future research should focus on improvements in supply-chain efficiency, eating quality, visual appeal, odour and the health attributes of lamb meat.

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