Two surveys, involving 288 lambs, were carried out on the effects of system of production on the melting (slip) point, iodine value, and fatty acid composition of perinephric and subcutaneous carcass fat. The systems studied were:
A, early Spring lambs fattened indoors on concentrates;
B, early Spring lambs off grass;
C, early Summer lambs off grass;
D, Autumn lambs off grass, and
E, Winter hoggets.
The melting point of both perinephric and subcutaneous fat increased progressively during the season from mean values of 41 and 32°C respectively in group A to mean values of 48 and 42°C respectively in group E. Discolouration of the surface fat was associated with the low melting points of group A.
Mean iodine values of both fats decreased progressively from group A to group E and this change was associated with a decrease in levels of oleic and palmitoleic acid and a corresponding increase in the level of stearic acid. In the fat, levels of myristic acid were highest in grass fed lambs while levels of linoleic acid were highest in the concentrate-fed lambs.
Within each group, perinephric fat contained more stearic and less oleic, palmitoleic, palmitic and myristic acid than subcutaneous fat.
Within animals, the levels between perinephric and subcutaneous fat of melting point, iodine value and most of the individual fatty acids were highly correlated.
Within animals also, the melting point of perinephric fat was correlated in decreasing order of significance with stearic acid, oleic acid, iodine value, linoleic acid and palmitoleic acid, while melting point of subcutaneous fat was correlated in decreasing order of significance with stearic acid, oleic acid, palmitoleic acid, iodine value, linoleic acid and total branched-chain fatty acids.