A total of 56 sheep, 28 Clun and 28 Southdown were slaughtered, five of each breed, at birth, 50, 100, 150 and 200 days and three of each breed at 415 days of age. The left half of each carcass was separated anatomically into individual muscles, bones and fat depots. For the purposes of analysis, individual muscles were assigned to one of eight muscle groups, depending upon their anatomical location.
The relative growth of some individual muscles was found to change over this age range, as indicated by a significant squared term in the quadratic allometric equation: this was true for proportionately 0·33 of the muscles in Clun and for proportionately 0·44 of those in Southdown, accounting for proportionately 0·33 and 0·47 of total muscle weight in Clun and Southdown respectively.
Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to derive the multivariate analogue of the quadratic part of quadratic allometry: the sign of the loading on the second principal component had the same sign as the change observed in bq, the quadratic relative growth coefficient. Thus, PCA offers the potential to identify simultaneously, and independently of shape or conformation, all those muscles whose relative growth coefficients change over the period examined. It could be applied successfully to breed comparisons of conformation.
The cumulative effects of changing relative growth rates of muscles were small. Muscle weight distribution appears to be almost fixed within the first few weeks after birth. Despite their differences in conformation and mature size, Clun and Southdown lambs had similar distributions of muscle weight at the same age; the high valued muscles constituted 513·8 g/kg total muscle in Clun and 514·7 g/kg total muscle in Southdown lambs at 200 days of age.