The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of ultrasound measurements for predicting carcass traits in 124 Spanish pascual-type lambs (13 to 16 kg carcass weight). Ultrasound images were taken transversal and longitudinal to the vertebral column and at thoracic (TV; between 12th and 13th ribs) and lumbar (LV; between first and second lumbar vertebrae) locations. Skin thickness, subcutaneous backfat thickness (BFT), and depth (DLD), width (WLD), and area (ALD) of longissimus dorsi were obtained with ImageJ 1.42q software. After slaughter, BFT (TV, 2.30 ± 0.06 mm; LV, 2.46 ± 0.06 mm), DLD (TV, 2.47 ± 0.03 cm; LV, 2.48 ± 0.03 cm), WLD (TV, 4.50 ± 0.04 cm; LV, 4.60 ± 0.04 cm), and ALD (TV, 9.96 ± 0.12 cm2; LV, 10.19 ± 0.13 cm2) were directly measured on the lamb carcass. Correlations between ultrasound and direct carcass measurements were greater than 0.61 for DLD, WLD, and ALD (P < 0.05) whereas they fluctuated between 0.32 and 0.60 for BFT (P < 0.05); moreover, correlations were significantly (P < 0.05) greater for transversal than for longitudinal views. In a similar way, linear regression analyses suggested a moderate underestimation for BFT and lumbar DLD when using real-time ultrasound technologies whereas WLD, ALD, and thoracic DLD suffered from under-and overestimation for small and large values of carcass traits, respectively. After decomposing the mean square prediction error (MSPE) for the different ultrasound measurements, we found that the error due to disturbance contributed most to the MSPE followed by the error of central tendency and the error due to regression. The SE of prediction (SEP) was also calculated as an additional precision indicator, obtaining estimates less than that in previous studies with larger lambs. In conclusion, transversal ultrasound measurements at the thoracic and lumbar levels could be a useful tool for predicting DLD, WLD, and ALD in light lambs, perhaps suffering from worse prediction properties when focusing on BFT. This information could be of special relevance for light lamb producers worldwide, with a special emphasis in the Mediterranean basin where this kind of production system accounts for a large percentage of the sheep industry. © 2012 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
- Light lamb
- Real-time ultrasound