Effect of straw on lamb welfare, production performance and meat quality during the finishing phase of fattening

Meat Sci. 2012 Dec;92(4):829-36. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


The studies analyse the effect of straw on lamb welfare, production and meat quality in finishing lambs. Two studies were carried out. Study 1 included two treatments and two replicates with six lambs each (17.20±0.2 kg). One pen was provided with straw for forage and bedding while the other had none. Feeding with concentrate was ad libitum. Live weight and concentrate consumption were recorded and average daily gain and conversion index calculated. Stereotypes, agonistic and affiliative interactions and physiological indicators of stress were analysed. In study 2, 24 lambs were divided into two groups to analyse the effect of treatments on meat and carcass quality. No significant differences in production or meat quality traits were observed. Lambs housed without straw had higher levels of cortisol and stereotypes. Affiliative interactions were greater in lambs without straw. Results suggest that straw can be considered an effective environment-enriching tool to improve welfare.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Inbred Strains
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Energy Intake
  • Food Quality*
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Muscle Development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Plant Stems / chemistry
  • Sheep / blood
  • Sheep / growth & development*
  • Sheep / psychology
  • Sheep Diseases / blood
  • Sheep Diseases / prevention & control
  • Social Behavior
  • Spain
  • Stereotyped Behavior
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Weight Gain


  • Hydrocortisone