Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 51, Issue 8, pp 2455–2463 | Cite as

Carcass characteristics and meat quality of sheep fed alfalfa hay to replace Bermuda grass hay

  • José Ricardo Coelho da Silva
  • Francisco Fernando Ramos de Carvalho
  • Marcelo de Andrade Fereira
  • Evaristo Jorge Oliveira de Souza
  • Maria Inês Sucupira Maciel
  • Lígia Maria Gomes Barreto
  • Levi Auto Lopes
  • Eduardo Henrique Araújo Cordeiro
  • Antonia Sherlânea Chaves VérasEmail author
Regular Articles


The objective of this study was to evaluate carcass characteristics, meat quality, and organ and viscera weight of forty male sheep, not castrated, initially weighed 26.5 ± 1.85 kg, and confined for 100 days (44 days for the adjustment period and 56 days of the experimental period). The treatments were four levels of replacement of Bermuda grass hay with alfalfa hay (0, 200, 400, and 600 g/kg, based on dry matter). The design was randomized blocks (one lighter group and other heavier group) with 10 animals in each treatment. There were no effects on weight gain or carcass parameters. However, an increase was observed on dry matter intake (g/day), crude protein intake (g/day), empty body weight (kg), and subcutaneous fat thickness (mm). There was also an increase in total organ weights in kg and g/kg. The tissue composition of the leg had a quadratic effect on the bone tissue weight (g) and linear effect on adipose tissue relative (g/kg) and muscle-fat relations. There was also a quadratic effect on bone tissues (g/kg) and muscle-bone relations. Likewise, there was a quadratic effect on the qualitative characteristics of meat (measure of luminosity), with the replacement of Bermuda grass hay with alfalfa hay in sheep feed. The replacement of Bermuda grass hay with alfalfa did not change carcass characteristics and meat quality.


Feedlot Fibre Legumes Small ruminants 


Funding information

The authors would like to thanks the Foundation for Science and Technology Support from Pernambuco (FACEPE) for project financing.

Compliance with ethical standards

This research was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco for animal experimentation and registered under the reference CEUA/UFRPE 119/2015.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Ricardo Coelho da Silva
    • 1
  • Francisco Fernando Ramos de Carvalho
    • 1
  • Marcelo de Andrade Fereira
    • 1
  • Evaristo Jorge Oliveira de Souza
    • 2
  • Maria Inês Sucupira Maciel
    • 3
  • Lígia Maria Gomes Barreto
    • 4
  • Levi Auto Lopes
    • 1
  • Eduardo Henrique Araújo Cordeiro
    • 1
  • Antonia Sherlânea Chaves Véras
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Animal ScienceFederal Rural University of PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Academic Unit of Serra TalhadaFederal Rural University of PernambucoSerra TalhadaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Domestic ScienceFederal Rural University of PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Animal ScienceFederal University of SergipeNossa Senhora da GlóriaBrazil

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