Effect of Transportation at High Ambient Temperatures on Physiological Responses, Carcass and Meat Quality Characteristics in Two Age Groups of Omani Sheep

  • Kadim, I.T. (Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University) ;
  • Mahgoub, O. (Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University) ;
  • AlKindi, A.Y. (Department of Biology, College of Science, Sultan Qaboos University) ;
  • Al-Marzooqi, W. (Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University) ;
  • Al-Saqri, N.M. (Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 34, Al-Khoud, 123, Sultanate of Oman) ;
  • Almaney, M. (Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Sultan Qaboos University) ;
  • Mahmoud, I.Y. (Department of Biology, College of Science, Sultan Qaboos University)
  • Received : 2006.05.10
  • Accepted : 2006.08.22
  • Published : 2007.03.01


The aim of this study was to determine the effects of short road transportation in an open truck during hot season on live weight shrink, physiological responses, and carcass and meat quality of Omani sheep at 6 and 12 months of age. Thirty-six male sheep, 18 of each age group, were used. Age groups were assigned randomly to transported and not-transported groups. The transported group was transported to the slaughterhouse the day of slaughter in an open truck covering a distance of approximately 100 km. The average temperature during transportation was $37^{\circ}C$. The not-transported group was kept in a lairage of a commercial slaughterhouse with ad libitum feed and water for 48 h prior to slaughter. Blood samples were collected from sheep before loading and prior to slaughter via jugular venipuncture to assess their physiological response to transport in relation to hormonal levels. Animals were weighed just before loading onto a truck and after transport to assess shrinkage. Muscle ultimate pH, expressed juice, cooking loss percentage, WB-shear force value, sarcomere length and colour L*, a*, b* were measured on samples from longissimus dorsi, biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles collected at 24 h postmortem at $1-3^{\circ}C$. Live weight shrinkage losses were 1.09 and 1.52 kg for 6 and 12 month transported sheep, respectively. The transported sheep had significantly (p<0.05) higher cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine concentration levels prior to slaughter at both ages than the not-transported sheep. Transportation significantly influenced meat quality characteristics of three muscles. Muscle ultimate pH and shear force values were significantly higher, while CIE L*, a*, b*, expressed juice and cooking loss were lower in transported than not-transported sheep. Age had a significant effect on meat quality characteristics of Omani sheep. These results indicated that short-term pre-slaughter transport at high ambient temperatures can cause noticeable changes in physiological and muscle metabolism responses in sheep.


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