Suckled single lambs, 6 weeks of age at slaughter, were used to study the melting point, iodine value, fatty acid composition and softness index of carcass fat. The lambs, born in mid-October in central Greece, were suckled from birth to slaughter and received no supplementary feed. They consisted of 43 Sarakatsaniko, 22 Karagouniko and 29 Chios x (East Friesland x Karagouniko). At slaughter, samples of subcutaneous fat from the base of the tail and perinephric fat were removed and stored at – 10 °C until analysed.
Melting point and iodine value were determined by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (1980) and International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1977) methods of analysis. Gas-liquid chromatography, on 12% diethyleneglycol succinate as stationary phase, was used for fatty acid methyl esters analysis. Softness index was calculated.
Component fatty acids in decreasing order of proportion in total fat were oleic, palmitic, stearic, myristic, palmitoleic, linoleic, linolenic, lauric and capric acids. The total of odd-numbered n-acids and branched chain acids occupied a position approximately mid-way. There was very little evidence of differences between the sexes. However, the differences between the two fat depots and those between breeds were significant in most of the traits. Significant correlations between some of the traits studied and also linear regression equations between selected variables were obtained.