IN THE quest to serve the tastiest lamb chops and roasts, a meat quality trial run by the Graham Centre, a partnership between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Charles Sturt University (CSU) has taken lamb to the ultimate test - on the plate.
DPI researcher from the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, Stephanie Fowler, said 64 volunteers were enlisted to taste test white dorper lamb loin cuts at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.
"Tasters tried nine random samples of lamb, which had been grown on five different fresh pastures, as we explore how diet affects dorper lamb meat quality," Ms Fowler said.
"Our untrained panellists ranked each piece of lamb on a scale which rated tenderness, juiciness, flavour and how much they liked it overall.
"The trial is investigating how sheep producers may be able to improve eating quality for consumers and production values by fine-tuning lamb diets.
"All the lamb was tested in our Cowra laboratory to measure the impact of the different diets on carcase yields, tenderness, colour, pH and moisture levels.
"Now we have sensory data from the tasting panel and it will be analysed and correlated with the laboratory results to work out how the various feed options affect eating experiences and key production targets."
"We know that a diet of saltbush can affect the flavour of lamb and it will be interesting to see if our tasters could point to differences in flavour and tenderness."
The trial aims to give producers information which they can use to improve eating quality and consumer satisfaction to better target taste buds and add value.
CSU whole farm management lecturer, Shawn McGrath, has conducted the livestock management aspects of the trial.
Sixty-two white dorper lambs grazed on bladder clover, hybrid kale, chicory and arrowleaf clover, lucerne and phalaris, and lucerne pastures at CSU Wagga Wagga.
Ms Fowler and Mr McGrath are working through the Graham Centre, a fertile alliance which brings together scientists from DPI and CSU to better deliver data farmers can use to address production and marketing issues.