Effects of Replacing Parts of Concentrate with Thyme (Thymus schimperi) Leaf on Growth Performance, Carcass Characteristics and Sensory Quality of Meat of Arsi-Bale Sheep Fed on Barley Straw Basal Diet

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Mekuanent Baye
Ajebu Nurfeta
Sandip Banerjee


Twenty-four intact male yearling Arsi-Bale sheep with an average body weight of 17.61±1.2 kg (Mean ± SD) were used to evaluate the effect of partial replacement of concentrate with thyme (Thymus schimperi) leaves on performance. The experiment consisted of ninety days growth experiment followed by a seven-day digestibility trial. Carcass traits and meat quality attributes were evaluated at the end of the digestibility trial. The experiment was arranged using a randomized complete block design. Dietary treatments comprised of 300 g concentrate mix (33% linseed cake and 67% wheat bran) (T1), 250 g concentrate mix + 50 g thyme leaf (T2), 225 g concentrate mix + 75 g/d thyme leaf (T3), and 200 g concentrate mix + 100 g thyme leaf (T4). Barley straw was offered ad libitum as a basal diet. The highest (P<0.05) total dry matter (DM) and organic matter (OM) intake were observed for T2, while the lowest was for T1 diets. The total crude protein (CP) intake decreased (P<0.05) with increasing levels of thyme leaf. The DM digestibility for T1 was greater (P<0.05) than that of T3 and T4 diets. The apparent digestibility of OM, CP and neutral detergent fiber was lower (P<0.05) for supplemented treatments compared with T1. The dressing percentage was greater (P<0.05) for sheep in T1, T2 and T3 compared with T4. Larger (P<0.05) rib-eye muscle area was observed for sheep in T1 and T2 diets than sheep in T3 and T4. Among the thyme leaf supplemented treatments, T3 and T4 had better (P<0.05) flavor than T2 while T4 had better P<0.05) aroma compared with T2. Mutton from the sheep fed on T1 diet had the highest (P<0.01) scores for tenderness. In conclusion, for most response variables, it is not important to include more than 50g thyme leaf but those who are interested in the aroma and flavor of mutton can feed 75 and 100 g thyme as part of concentrate mix for sheep fed barley straw-based diets.


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