By Farmer reporter

Initial findings from recent analysis of PGI Welsh lamb have revealed that meat from lambs reared on grass contain higher levels of protein-based amino acids and other nutritional benefits.

As part of the second year of testing on a major research project looking at the eating quality of Welsh lamb, the most recent scientific analysis highlighted the presence of high amounts of amino acids which make up proteins, beneficial fats and minerals.

The Welsh lamb meat quality project looks at factors that affect variation in meat quality, as part of Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) five-year, three-project, red meat development programme that seeks to help Welsh farming prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

The analysis was carried out on 24 lambs which were reared on two different diets, one being grass only, and the second a concentrate diet. The meat was analysed for protein, amino acid and other nutritional content.

Dr Eleri Thomas, HCC meat quality executive explained: “The analysis showed that the lambs reared on grass-based diets contained higher levels of essential amino acids compared to lambs reared on a concentrate diet.

"The presence of essential amino acids is important, as humans can only obtain such nutrients through food consumed as part of their diet. Essential amino acids are at the core of many vital processes within the body including muscle development and repair, and immune function.

“The results also showed that the samples taken from grass-fed lambs had significantly higher amounts of five healthy amino acids. This is good news for consumers and also for farmers who finish their lambs on grass, as grass is a sustainable efficient diet source.”

The nutritional analysis of the lamb samples is just one part of the testing taking place this year. Later in the year, the project will recruit 480 consumers in three cities across the UK to be part of a 2,000 sample who will taste and score the lamb on aroma, tenderness, juiciness and flavour.

Findings from nutritional analysis and results collect from consumers from each year of testing will be used to inform the sector on how to enhance the Welsh lamb eating quality experience for the modern consumer.