This study aimed at comparing the nutritional quality of meat fatty acids (FA) of pasture-fed lambs reared organically or conventionally and offered two levels of herbage availability. Forty eight castrated male lambs of Limousine breed were used in a 2 x 2 experimental design, i.e. production system (Organic –O- vs. Conventional –C-) x level of herbage availability (High vs. Low). The O and C pastures differed in the level of on-pasture mineral N fertilization (0 vs. 100 U. ha-1. year-1) since 10 years. The level of pasture availability was managed to obtain a mean lamb age at slaughter of 5 vs. 6 months in the High and the Low level respectively. GLC analysis of fatty acids from the Longissimus thoracis muscle showed that organic farming system improved the health value of lamb meat by decreasing the level of saturated FA and especially 16:0, thus leading to a higher value of polyunsaturated FA (PUFA) to saturated FA ratio (+15%, P<0.03) and increasing the level of CLA (+18.2%, P< 0.002). The high level of herbage availability led to a better nutritional and health value of meat FA by increasing significantly deposition of n-6 PUFA (+16.3%), n-3 PUFA (+15%) and CLA (+20.2%) in LT muscle to the detriment of saturated FA (-3.4%). In conclusion, the present study confirmed the general interest of pasture-feeding on the nutritional quality of the lamb meat. It showed, for the first time, the beneficial impact of organic farming on the health value of lamb meat FA by favouring deposition of PUFA (compared to saturated FA) and CLA, this effect being reinforced by a high level of pasture availability
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