In March, 24 male lambs were divided into three groups and ted as follows: maternal milk (MM); acidified milk replacer (MR); acidified milk replacer with 5% of the tat total amount replaced by a linseed and fish oil mixture (MR+PUFA). Milk consumption and live weight were recorded weekly. At slaughter we recorded the carcass composition, pH, tenderness, colorimetric characteristics, chemical and fatty acid composition of the meat. Natural suckling resulted in a better slaughter yield (P < 0.01), tatter carcasses, and meat which was more tender (P < 0.01), less bright (P < 0.01) and redder (P < 0.05) than the two experimental groups. Meat from naturally suckled lambs contained higher (P < 0.01) concentrations of saturated fatty acids (SFA) than the other groups. Samples from the MR+PUFA group showed higher (P < 0.01) levels of PUFA and a better PUFA/SFA ratio. The groups reared artificially showed atherogenicity and the thrombogenicity index lower (P < 0.01) than the group naturally feeding.
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