Nine male and nine female lambs each from the Karagouniko (K), Chios (C) and East Friesland (F) breeds were weaned at a mean age of 50 days and were killed over a commercial range of live weight from 16 to 44 kg (carcass weights 6 to 22 kg).
Carcass weight was linearly related to fasted live weight prior to slaughter (r = 0·994). There were significant but small differences between breeds in mean weight of lungs, pelt and internal fat. The carcass components of bone, muscle and fat tissues were related to carcass weight by linear or quadratic regression. Adjusted to mean carcass weight, the mean weight of bone did not differ between breeds (2·82 kg, s.e. = 0·056 at 12·8 kg carcass). The K and C lambs had significantly less muscle than the F lambs (6·77, 6·63 and 8·20 kg, respectively, s.e.d. = 0·094) and more fat (2·87, 2·95 and 1·29 kg, respectively, s.e.d. = 0·017) when compared at mean carcass weight. The breed differences were significant over the whole range whether compared at equal weight or at an equal proportion of estimated mature weight. At the same proportion of carcass fat, corresponding to the United Kingdom market average (250 g/kg) the calculated carcass weights were 16, 17 and 30 kg, respectively, for K, C and F lambs.
It is concluded that the Friesland breed differs from many others in the proportions of muscle or fat at corresponding carcass weights but this difference is not a general characteristic of dairy sheep. Comparison of breeds at defined proportions of carcass components, as determined by market standards, can be effectively achieved by serial slaughter over a suitable weight range.