Effects of nomadic grazing system and indoor concentrate feeding systems on performance, behavior, blood parameters, and meat quality of finishing lambs
The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of three production systems on growth performance, behavior, blood parameters, carcass characteristics, and meat quality. A total of 30 lambs (n = 10 lambs/treatment) were randomly assigned to three production systems that included rotational grazing (NG) and two different levels of concentrate (CON), one with medium (roughage/concentrate ratio 50:50% based on DM, MC) and one with high concentrate (roughage/concentrate ratio 30:70% based on DM, HC) during the 90-day fattening period. At the start of the experiment, all lambs averaged 90 ± 4 days of age (mean ± SD) and were slaughtered at an average of 180 ± 3 days (mean ± SD). CON-fed lambs had higher average daily gain and loin thickness than NG-fed lambs. The NG lambs spent more time eating, drinking, and standing, but less time resting and rumination than the CON-fed lambs. In addition, plasma lipid, β-hydroxybutyrate, and urea levels were higher, while phosphorus levels were lower in NG-fed lambs than in CON-fed lambs. CON-fed lambs had better carcass yield, but gastrointestinal tract and rumen weights were lower than NG lambs. CON-fed lambs had higher pH values 0 h post mortem than the NG lambs; however, there was no effect of treatment on pH 24 h post mortem. The post-mortem color of the LD muscle of NG lambs had a higher lightness and yellowness index and a lower redness index than that of the LD muscle of CON-fed lambs. The results of this study showed that lambs fed CON had better carcass yield than lambs fed NG, although feed intake, feed conversion ratio (FCR), growth performance, carcass yield, and meat quality of lambs fed MC and HC were similar.