Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

A Comparison of Two Different Slaughter Systems for Lambs. Effects on Carcass Characteristics, Technological Meat Quality and Sensory Attributes

Stenberg, Elin; Arvidsson-Segerkvist, Katarina; Karlsson, Anders H.; Olafsdottir, Aoalheiour; Hilmarsson, Oli Por; Gudjonsdottir, Maria; Thorkelsson, Guojon


Simple Summary

Slaughter systems for lambs can differ in many ways, as they are optimised to meet site-specific conditions, and may affect carcasses differently. It is therefore important to assess whether different slaughter systems affect meat quality parameters such as colour and tenderness, which are important meat quality factors from a consumer perspective when buying a meat product. This study investigated whether two slaughter systems differing in stunning method, electrical stimulation of carcasses and chilling regime resulted in differences in quality attributes in meat from intact male lambs. It also examined whether breeding for carcasses with a higher incidence of lean muscle and less fat content has affected tenderness scores for Icelandic lambs over time. The results showed that the two slaughter systems tested did not affect meat quality parameters to any large extent. Further analysis showed an increase in mechanical tenderness values in meat samples from the Icelandic lamb population over time, which could be due to selective breeding for carcasses with higher muscle and less fat content.

Two slaughter systems for lambs and their effects on meat quality in terms of texture, colour and sensory attributes were compared. The slaughter systems differed in methods for controlling rigor mortis and carcass chilling. One slaughter system (large-scale) used electrical stimulation and fast chilling of carcasses, while the other system (small-scale) did not use electrical stimulation and applied slower chilling, with carcass temperature decreasing over a longer period after slaughter. Ten pairs of ram lamb twins were selected, and one of each pair was slaughtered at the large-scale abattoir and the other at the small-scale abattoir. Carcass weight, conformation, fatness, pH and temperature were recorded. Musculus longissimus thoracis et lumborum was analysed for colour, cooking loss, Warner-Bratzler shear force and sensory attributes. For meat quality attributes, the only differences were found in meat colour L* (lightness; p = 0.0073), sensory attribute "appearance colour " (p = 0.0089) and "fatty flavour " (p = 0.0554). Meat from the small-scale abattoir was darker in colour and had a more fatty flavour than the meat from the large-scale abattoir. For sensory attributes (apart from colour), no significant differences were found between the two abattoir systems.


lamb; pH; meat colour; cooking loss; Warner-Bratzler shear force; selected breeding; slaughter system

Published in

2021, Volume: 11, number: 10, article number: 2935
Publisher: MDPI