5 July 2002

Gene can reduce lamb muscling

INCREASED muscling in lambs can be achieved by using rams with a gene known as the Carwell gene, which has been identified in trial work at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

Work on identifying and marking genes will allow pedigree breeders to select for genetic traits and so pass on the benefits to commercial flockmasters, said the institutes Grant Walling. "We have identified and marked a gene known as the Carwell gene in both Suffolks and Texels. This gene has been shown to increase rib-eye muscle size in lambs by up to 10%.

"The commercial application of this work is still in its infancy. But we believe it could have major benefits for the sheep industry," says Dr Walling.

The genes have been proven to pass the muscling to their progeny.

This development could have a substantial effect on lamb production if taken up by commercial producers. The Carwell gene, which effects rib eye muscle size, is also linked to total lean meat content of the carcass, says Sam Boon of Signet.

"The use of CT scanning in sire reference schemes has led to rams being selected for muscling traits. The identification of this gene should allow breeders more rapid progress, giving commercial flockmasters another tool with which to improve margins." &#42