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The effects of depriving feed to facilitate transport and slaughter in sheep – a case study of cull ewes held off pasture for different periods

Fisher, M.W.; Muir, P.D.; Gregory, N.G.; Thomson, B.C.; Smith, N.B.; Johnstone, P.D.; Bicknell, N.

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Abstract: AIM: To determine the ability of sheep to mobilise their body reserves after being deprived of feed prior to transport for slaughter. METHODS: A total of 240 3- and 4-year-old cull ewes were held off pasture for 0, 9, 18 or 30 hours (n=60 per group) then transported 1 hour by road, unloaded and washed, held in lairage for 3 hours then slaughtered. Blood samples were collected from a subsample of 60 unfasted ewes 1 week earlier, and from all ewes at exsanguination to determine concentrations of serum metabolites indicative of adaptation to fasting. In addition, several attributes of carcass quality were measured. RESULTS: At slaughter, increased time off pasture prior to transport resulted in no change in glucose concentrations in serum (p=0.140). There were differences (p0.05) on carcass weights (mean 22.7, min 13.2, max 32.9 kg) or dressing out percentages (mean 40.9, min 27, max 49%). Meat ultimate pH was unaffected (p>0.05) by the period of feed deprivation but meat became darker (p<0.05) and had reduced redness (p

Automatic Tags

fasting; Sheep; carcass quality; slaughter; transport

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