It was hypothesized that feeding mesquite pods to male Rambouillet lambs would have no negative effects on carcass characteristics, meat chemical composition and fatty acid composition of Longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL). Twenty-one male lambs (2.5 months old and 21 ± 1.44 kg bodyweight) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental diets, two of which replaced maize grain and stover with mesquite pods (Prosopis laevigata) (PL): 0 g PL/kg feed (PL0), 250 g PL/kg feed (PL250) and 500 g PL/kg feed (dry matter basis). The feeding trial lasted 72 days. Carcass traits, chemical composition, fatty acid profile, and sensory characteristics of meat were measured. Carcass linear dimensions, non-carcass components, digestive tract and offal, compression value, and chemical composition of meat were similar in all treatments. Dietary inclusion of PL decreased carcass shrinkage loss. Lambs fed PL500 had better muscle conformation and degree of fat. Meat produced by PL-fed lambs was well accepted by panellists who judged meat appearance, colour, flavour, juiciness, toughness, and stringiness. In lambs fed PL0, the LTL muscle was lighter and yellower than that of animals fed PL250 and PL500 diets. Fatty acid composition was altered. The PL0 diet resulted in lower percentages of total trans fatty acids (TFA) and saturated fatty acids (SFA) and higher percentages of most unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) n-6 compared with PL250 and PL500 diets. Mesquite diets of up to 500 g/kg dry matter (DM) for growing lambs improved carcass quality and nutritional parameters of the meat.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher