Polyunsaturated fats in meat from Merino, first- and second-cross sheep slaughtered as yearlings

E. N. Ponnampalam, D. L. Hopkins, K. L. Butler, F. R. Dunshea, A. J. Sinclair, R. D. Warner

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18 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the level of long chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, the ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat (PUFA/SFA) and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (n-6/n-3) fat in sheep grown under grazing conditions in Australia. The sheep genotypes used were Poll Dorsetgrowth × Border Leicester Merino (PDg × BLM), Poll Dorsetgrowth × Merino (PDg × M), Poll Dorsetmuscling × Merino (PDm × M), Border Leicester × Merino (BL × M) and Merino × Merino (M × M). Loin muscles (Longissimus lumborum) collected from 40 ewe and wether sheep slaughtered at 14 months of age were processed for fatty acid determination. After frozen storage, 20 g samples were minced and a 7 g homogenate was processed for muscle lipid extraction using a chloroform:methanol (2:1) procedure. There was an increase in PUFA/SFA as the proportion of Merino genetics increased in the progeny (second-cross < first-cross < Merino), but this was not shown in the n-6/n-3 ratio. The PUFA/SFA trend appeared to be associated with an increase in the level of total polyunsaturated fats, but not a decrease in the level of total saturated fats. The results demonstrate that there is a need to improve the PUFA/SFA content in first- and second-cross animals which are mainly used for meat production in Australia so as to maintain the healthy lipids in meat. Nutritional manipulation through feeding systems or selection of sires for greater heritability of omega-3 fat deposition may be suitable pathways to elevate the ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in particular omega-3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-319
Number of pages6
JournalMeat Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Genotypes
  • Human health
  • Lipids in meat
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats
  • Sheep

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