BACKGROUND: This study evaluated the effects on lamb growth, carcass traits and meat quality of replacing conventional soybean meal in the diet with alternative legume grains.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight male lambs of Comisana breed weighing 16.9 ± 2.7 kg at weaning (66 ± 6 days old) were assigned to one of four diets. Until slaughter at 129 ± 6 days of age, each group received ad libitum pelleted alfalfa hay and concentrates differing in the source of protein: chickpea, faba bean, pea or soybean meal. Lambs fed chickpea showed higher dry matter and protein intakes from concentrate than those fed soybean. Lambs' growth, carcass weight and net dressing percentage did not vary by protein source, although chickpea lambs had more perirenal and pelvic fat than those in the soybean group. Diet did not affect chemical composition, colour, thawing and cooking losses, tenderness, and sensory properties of meat. Chickpea increased trans-vaccenic and linoleic acid, and chickpea and faba bean increased the isomers of conjugated linoleic acid.
CONCLUSIONS: Legume grains can completely replace soybean meal in concentrate, resulting in lamb carcasses and meat of comparable quality. Chickpea leads to an increase in feed intake of lambs and in fat depots in the carcass, and a more beneficial fatty acid profile. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry