Using Linear Body Measurements of Live Sheep to Predict Carcass Characteristics for Two Iranian Fat-tailed Sheep Breeds

  • Kiyanzad, M.R. (Animal Science Research Institute)
  • Received : 2002.12.09
  • Accepted : 2003.12.30
  • Published : 2004.05.01


Live animal selection programs that favor animals with a minimum amount of carcass fat are used for improving breeding flocks of sheep. To predict carcass characteristics of live sheep using body measurements in breeding flocks, 200 male and female lambs of two fat-tailed Iranian sheep breeds (Moghani and Makui) were used. Depth of soft tissue over the 12th rib of the live animals was measured with ultrasound (ULGR) and with hypodermic needle (NGR). The height at withers (HW), body length (BL), circumference of heart girth (CH) and width of hooks (WH), were measured. All animals were slaughtered; carcasses were cut into joints and dissected. Breed had a significant effect on all of the live easurements. The Moghani breed showed a higher value for HW, CH, ULGR and NGR, compared to that of Makui. Except for soft tissue depths; ULGR, NGR and GR, the male lambs showed higher values in live and carcass measurements than females. Percentages of carcass, total fat and intermuscular fat in females were higher than that of male lambs. In spite of the higher amount of subcutaneous and intermuscular fat in female (which is usually used for their physiological need, such as pregnancy and lactation), the male lambs had a heavier fat-tail than females. There was a wide range of variation of percentage of total carcass fat and total chemical fat content of carcass in the two breeds. Eventually this wide variation could be use by animal breeders for selection of animals with a lesser amount of carcass fat. Live weight of lambs showed a relatively low correlation with percentage of carcass lean, total fat and subcutaneous and intermuscular fat. Total lean meat was predicted with relatively high coefficients of determination in the two breeds ($R^2$=0.61 and 0.89, respectively). Live weight and carcass traits were predicted using simple measurements, but with $R^2$ ranging from 0.53 to 0.93.


  1. AOAC. 1995. Official Methods of Analysis Association of Official Analytical Chemist. Wash. DC. USA.
  2. Abouheif, M. A., M. Kraidees and B. Al-Selbood. 1999. The utilization of rumen content-barley meal in diets of growing lambs. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 12(8)1234-1240.
  3. Baily, C. M., J. Jensen and B. B. Andersen. 1986. Ultrasonic scanning and body measurements for predicting composition and muscle distribution in young Holstein X Friesian bulls. J. Anim. Sci. 63:1337-46.
  4. Bourdon, R. M. 2000. Understanding Animal Breeding. Prentice Hall, Inc USA.
  5. Cameron, N. D. and J. Barcken. 1992. Selection for carcass lean content in a terminal sire breed of sheep. Anim. Prod. 54:379-388.
  6. Edwards, J. W., R. C. Cannell, R. P. Garret, J. W. Savell, H. R. Cross and M. T. longnecker. 1989. Using ultrasound liner measurements and live fat thickness estimates to determine the carcass composition of market lambs. J. Anim. Sci. 68:604-610.
  7. Emamjomeh, N., N. M. Alipanah and A. Egbaleh. 1997. Fatty acids content of fat-tail, tallow and dissect able muscle fat in three fat-tailed Iranian sheep. First Sheep and Goat Congress, Animal Science Research Institute, Karaj, Iran.
  8. Farid, A. 1991. Carcass physical and chemical composition of three fat-tailed breeds of sheep. Meat Sci. 29:109-120.
  9. Fortin, A. and J. N. B. Shrestha. 1986. In vitro estimation of carcass meat by ultrasound in ram lambs slaughtered at an average live weight of 37 kg. Anim. Prod. 43:469-475.
  10. Dehghanian, S. 1987. Feed and Feeding. Javid Publisher. Mashhad, Iran.
  11. Kiyanzad, R. M., R. Assadi-Moghadam and A. Nik-khah. 1993. Effect of age and sex on growth rate and carcass characteristics of fattening lambs. M. Sc. Thesis, University of Tehran, Iran.
  12. Kiyanzad, M. R. 1999. Application of ultrasound and body measurements for prediction of carcass physical and chemical components of live Iranian sheep. Project report, Animal Science Research Institute of Iran.
  13. Kiyanzad, M. R. 1999. Application of ultrasound and body measurements for prediction of carcass physical and chemical components of live Iranian sheep. Project report, Animal Science Research Institute of Iran.
  14. Lawrence, T. and V. R. Fowler. 1997. Growth of Farm Animals. CAB international, Waling ford, Oxen, UK.
  15. Leymaster, K. A., H. J. Mersmann and T. G. Jenkins. 1985. prediction of chemical composition of sheep by use of ultrasound. J. Anim. Sci. 61:165-172.
  16. Miles, C. A., G. Fursey and A. V. Fisher. 1991. Estimation of lamb carcass composition from measurements of the speed of ultrasound in the soft tissues of live animal and carcass. Meat Sci. 30:452-456.
  17. Osfoori, R. and L. Fesus. 1996. Genetic relationships of Iranian sheep breed using biochemical genetic marker. Arch. Tierz. Dumme Rstorf 39(1)33-46.
  18. Ramsey, C. B., A. H. Kirton and Y. L. Dobbie. 1991. Ultrasonic/ Needle and carcass measurements for predicting chemical composition of lamb carcass. J. Anim. Sci. 69:3655-3664.
  19. Simm, G. 1992. Selection for lean meat production in sheep. In progress in sheep and goat research, Edited by Speedy. A. W.
  20. Simm, G., W. S. Dingwall, S. V. Murphy, J. FitzSimmons and W. R. Brown. 1990. Selection for improved carcass composition in Suffolk sheep. Anim. Prod. 49:547 (Abstr.).
  21. SPSS. 1999. SPSS for Windows. Release 10.05, Standard version. Inc., 1989-1999.
  22. Stanford, K., I. Clark and S. D. Jones. 1995. Use of ultrasound in prediction of carcass characteristics in lambs. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 75:185-189.
  23. Willson, D. E. 1992. Application of ultrasound for genetic improvement. J. Anim. Sci. 70:973-983.
  24. Wood, J. D. and A. V. Fisher. 1990. Reducing Fat in Meat Animals. Elsevier, New York, p. 468.

Cited by

  1. Morphological traits in Portuguese Bordaleira de Entre Douro e Minho sheep: divergence of the breed vol.51, pp.7, 2011,