ETH Zürich, Institut für Agrarwissenschaften, 8092 Zürich, Schweiz

Effect of grazing system on fattening performance and meat quality of lambs grazing alpine summer pastures

In Switzerland, the level of subsidy provided for summer grazing of sheep differs between grazing systems. They are higher for rotational grazing than for permanent pasture systems. In this controlled alpine grazing experiment, fattening performance and meat quality were compared between these two grazing systems. Fifty-five castrated male lambs (36.2±4.2 kg live weight, 27±3 weeks of age) of the Swiss alpine breeds Engadine Sheep (ES) and Valaisian Black Nose Sheep (WS) were allocated to a nutrientrich Crepido aurea-Festucetum rubrae and a nutrient-poor Geo montani-Nardetum pasture. On each vegetation type, permanent and rotation pastures were established with groups of six to seven lambs from each breed. Daily gains, dressing percentage and, as a trend, meat conformation scores were higher for both breeds in the rotational compared to the permanent system. Nevertheless, the vegetation type had a stronger influence on daily gains and carcass weight than the grazing system. Meat from Engadine sheep had higher cooking losses and lower shear forces with rotation than with the permanent system. For the Valaisian Black Nose sheep, a corresponding trend was only obvious for shear force. Thus, the two breeds responded differently to the grazing system in terms of meat quality. With regard to fattening performance, the alpine rotational grazing system was superior to the permanent grazing system for both breeds.

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