Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effect of ewe feeding system (grass v. concentrate) on intramuscular fatty acids of lambs raised exclusively on maternal milk

  • M. A. Valvo (a1), M. Lanza (a2), M. Bella (a2), V. Fasone (a3), M. Scerra (a3), L. Biondi (a2) and A. Priolo (a2)...


Twenty pregnant Comisana ewes were divided into two groups of 10. One group was allowed to graze a vetch pasture (grass). The second group of animals was housed collectively in a pen and was given hay and concentrates (concentrate). After lambing, all the ewes were allowed to stay with the respective lambs between 18:00 h and 07:00 h of the following day in two different pens. Therefore all the lambs were raised exclusively on maternal milk. The lambs were slaughtered at 38 days of age. Milk and lamb meat (longissimus dorsi muscle) fatty acids were analysed. Ewes on grass produced milk with a lower (P < 0·001) proportion of saturated fatty acids and with a higher proportion of both monounsaturated (P < 0·05) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (P < 0·01) than ewes given concentrates. Trans-vaccenic acid was significantly higher (P < 0·001) in milk from grass-fed animals compared with ewes given concentrates. Linoleic acid (C18: 2 n-6) tended to be higher (P = 0·06) in milk from ewes on concentrates while linolenic acid (C18: 3 n-3) was significantly higher (P < 0·001) in milk from animals grazing pasture. Conjugated linoleic acid (cis-9, trans-11 C18: 2) was almost double in milk from grass-fed ewes compared with animals given concentrates (P < 0·001). Regarding lamb tissue, trans-vaccenic acid (C18: 1 trans-11) was higher (P = 0·01) in the fat from lambs raised by grazing ewes. Linoleic acid (C18: 2 n-6) was at higher concentration (P < 0·001) in the fat from lambs raised by ewes given concentrates. Linolenic acid (C18: 3 n-3) was increased three-fold (P < 0·001) in the fat of lambs from the grass group compared with lambs suckled by ewes given concentrates. The isomer cis-9, trans-11 of conjugated linoleic acid was present at double concentration (P < 0·001) in the fat from animals raised by grazing ewes. Eicosapentaenoic (C20: 5 n-3; EPA) and docosaesaenoic (C22: 6 n-3; DHA) acids were higher (respectively P < 0·001 and P = 0·01) in the intramuscular fat from lambs from the grass group compared with animals from the concentrate group. The n-6/n-3 ratio was lower (P < 0·001) in the meat from lambs raised by grazing ewes. Overall this trial showed that ewe feeding system strongly affects intramuscular fatty acids even in lambs raised exclusively on maternal milk.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Association of Official Analytical Chemists. 1995. Official methods of analysis, 16th edition. AOAC, Washington, DC.
Aurousseau, B., Bauchart, D., Calichon, E., Micol, D. and Priolo, A. 2004. Effect of grass or concentrate feeding systems and rate of growth on triglyceride and phospholipid and their fatty acids in the M. longissimus thoracis of lambs. Meat Science 66: 531541.
Banni, S., Carta, G., Contini, M. S., Angioni, E., Deiana, M., Dessì, M. A., Melis, M. P. and Corongiu, F. P. 1996. Characterization of conjugated diene fatty acids in milk, dairy products, and lamb tissues. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 7: 150155.
Bas, P. and Morand-Fehr, P. 2000. Effect of nutritional factors on fatty acid composition of lamb fat deposits. Livestock Production Science 64: 6179.
Chilliard, Y., Ferlay, A. and Doreau, M. 2001. Effect of different types of forages, animal fat or marine oils in cow's diet on milk fat secretion and composition, especially conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Livestock Production Science 70: 3148.
Diaz, M. T., Fuente de la, J., Lauzurica, S., Pérez, C., Velasco, S., Álvarez, I., Ruiz de Huidobro, F., Onega, E., Blázquez, B. and Cañeque, V. 2005. Use of carcass weight to classify Manchego sucking lambs and its relation to carcass and meat quality. Animal Science 80: 6169.
Enser, M., Scollan, N. D., Choi, N. J., Kurt, E., Hallett, K. and Wood, J. D. 1999. Effect of dietary lipid on the content of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in beef muscle. Animal Science 69: 143146.
Folch, J., Lees, M. and Sloane-Stanley, G. H. S. 1957. A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. Journal of Biological Chemistry 226: 497509.
French, P., Stanton, C., Lawless, F., O'Riordan, E. G., Monahan, F. J., Caffrey, P. J. and Moloney, A. P. 2000. Fatty acid composition, including conjugated linoleic acid, of intramuscular fat from steers offered grazed grass, grass silage, or concentrate-based diets. Journal of Animal Science 78: 28492855.
Griinari, J. M., Corl, B. A., Lacy, S. H., Chouinard, P. Y., Nurmela, K. V. V. and Bauman, D. E. 2000. Conjugated linoleic acid is synthesized endogenously in lactating dairy cows by 9-desaturase. Journal of Nutrition 130: 22852291.
Knight, T. W., Tavendale, M. H. and Death, A. F. 2004. Conjugated linoleic acid concentration (CLA) in the m. longissimus thoracis of the offsprings of Romney ewes screened for high and low CLA in their milkfat. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 47: 287297.
McGuire, M. A. and McGuire, M. K. 2000. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): a ruminant fatty acid with bene.cial effects on human health. Proceedings of the American Society of Animal Science, 1999. Available on line at http: // proceedings/0938pdf
Minitab. 1995. Reference manual. Minitab Inc., State College, PA.
Moloney, A. P., Mooney, M. T., Kerry, J. P. and Troy, D. J. 2001. Animal nutrition and metabolism group symposium on ‘Quality inputs for quality foods’. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 60: 221229.
Raes, K., Fievez, V., Chow, T. T., Ansorena, D., Demeyer, D. and Smet, S. de. 2004a. Effect of diet and dietary fatty acids on the trasformation and incorporation of C18 fatty acids in doublemuscled Belgian Blue young bulls. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52: 60356041.
Raes, K., Smet, S. de. and Demeyer, D. 2004b. Effect of dietary fatty acids on incorporation of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid in lamb, beef and pork meat: a review. Animal Feed Science and Technology 113: 199221.
Russel, A. J. F. 1984. Means of assessing the adequacy of nutrition of pregnant ewes. Livestock Production Science 11: 429436.
Sauvant, D., Bas, P. and Morand-Fehr, P. 1979. Production de chevreaux lourds. II. Influence du niveau d'ingestion de lait et du sevrage sur les performances et la composition du tissue adipeaux. Annales de Zootechnie 28: 7392.
Sukhija, P. S. and Palmquist, D. L. 1988. Rapid method for determination of total fatty acid content and composition of feedstuffs and feces. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 36: 12021206.
Tice, E. M., Eastridge, M. L. and Firkins, J. L. 1994. Raw soybeans and roasted soybeans of different particle sizes. 2. Fatty acid utilization by lactating cows. Journal of Dairy Science 77: 166180.
Van Soest, P. J., Robertson, J. B. and Lewis, B. A. 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science 74: 35833597.
Velasco, S., Cañeque, V., Lauzurica, S., Perez, C. and Huidobro, F. 2004. Effect of different feeds on meat quality and fatty acid composition of lambs fattened at pasture. Meat Science 66: 457465.
Velasco, S., Cañeque, V., Pérez, C., Lauzurica, S., Díaz, M. T., Huidobro, F., Manzanares, C. and Gonzalez, J. 2001. Fatty acid composition of adipose depots of suckling lambs raised under different production systems. Meat Science 59: 325333.
Wood, J. D., Richardson, R. I., Nute, G. R., Fisher, A. V., Campo, M. M., Kasapidou, E., Sheard, P. R. and Enser, M. 2004. Effects of fatty acids on meat quality: a review. Meat Science 66: 2132.
Zygoyiannis, D., Kufidis, D., Katsaounis, N. and Phillips, P. 1992. Fatty acid composition of indigenous (Capra prisca) suckled Greek kids and milk of their does. Small Ruminant Research 8: 8395.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed