METHODS: Twenty-four Dorper lambs (18.68±0.6 kg, 4 to 5 months old) were randomly assigned to a concentrate mixture containing either, no supplement (control, T1), 1% Rosmarinus officinalis leaves (T2), 1% Nigella sativa seeds (T3), or 1% Rosmarinus officinalis leaves+1% Nigella sativa seeds (T4) on a dry matter basis. The lambs were fed the treatments with urea-treated rice straw for 90 days, slaughtered and the muscles were subjected to a 7 d postmortem chill storage.
RESULTS: The T2 lambs had greater (p<0.05) slaughter and cold carcass weights than the control lambs. Dietary supplements did not affect (p>0.05) chill loss, dressing percentage, carcass composition, intramuscular fat and muscle pH in Dorper lambs. Meat from supplemented lambs had lower (p<0.05) cooking and drip losses, shear force, lightness, and lipid oxidation and greater (p<0.05) redness compared with the control meat. The impact of dietary supplements on muscle FA varied with muscle type. Diet had no effect (p>0.05) on the expression of stearoyl-CoA desaturase and lipoprotein lipase genes in LD and ST muscles in Dorper lambs. The T2 and T3 diets up regulated the expression of AMP-activated protein kinase alpha 2 gene in LD and ST muscles and up regulated the expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 in ST muscle in Dorper lambs.
CONCLUSION: Dietary supplementation of Nigella sativa seeds and Rosmarinus officinalis leaves had beneficial effects on meat quality in Dorper lambs.