Eighty-two Merino sheep from birth to 517 days old were dissected into individual muscles. A system of overlapping growth coefficients was used to classify the growth patterns of 96 muscles and nine muscle groups. The relative size of muscles and groups at birth and one year are expressed as percentages of total half-carcass muscle weight.
Some differences were noted from the previously recorded growth patterns of bovine muscles. The groups of muscles in the proximal part of the pelvic limb and those surrounding the spinal column were relatively faster-growing in sheep than in cattle.
The patterns of the muscle groups are discussed relative to their function and it is shown that the patterns of growth of muscles within some groups are markedly different from the pattern of the whole group. This is most apparent in those groups with complex functions, and it is clear that anatomical grouping of muscles and functional grouping of muscles will be similar only in those regions of the body with relatively simple actions.