Effects of rumen-protected betaine supplementation on meat quality and the composition of fatty and amino acids in growing lambs

L. Dong, Z. X. Zhong, H. H. Cui, S. N. Wang, Y. Luo, L. H. Yu, J. J. Loor, H. R. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Rumen-protected betaine (RPB) can enhance betaine absorption in the small intestine of ruminants, while betaine can alter fat distribution and has the potential to affect the meat quality of livestock. Hence, we hypothesized that RPB might also affect the meat quality of lambs. Sixty male Hu sheep of similar weight (30.47 ± 2.04 kg) were selected and randomly subjected to five different treatments. The sheep were fed a control diet (control treatment, CTL); 1.1 g/day unprotected-betaine supplemented diet (UPB); or doses of 1.1 g/day (low RPB treatment; L-PB), 2.2 g/day (middle RPB treatment; M-PB) or 3.3 g/day (high RPB treatment; H-PB) RPB-supplemented diet for 70 days. Slaughter performance, meat quality, fatty acid and amino acid content in the longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle, shoulder muscle (SM) and gluteus muscle (GM) were measured. Compared with CTL, betaine (including UPB and RPB) supplementation increased the average daily weight gain (ADG) (P < 0.05) and average daily feed intake (P < 0.01) of lambs. Rumen-protected betaine increased ADG (P < 0.05) compared with UPB. With increasing RPB doses, the eye muscle area of the lambs linearly increased (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, betaine supplementation decreased water loss (P < 0.05) in SM and increased pH24 in the SM (P < 0.05) and GM (P < 0.05). Compared with UPB, RPB decreased water loss in the GM (P < 0.01), decreased shear force (P < 0.05) in the LD and SM and increased the pH of the meat 24 h after slaughter (pH 24). With increasing RPB doses, the shear force and b∗ value in the LD linearly decreased (P < 0.05), and the pH24 of the meat quadratically increased (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, betaine supplementation increased the polyunsaturated fatty acid in the GM (P < 0.05). Compared with UPB, RPB supplementation decreased the saturated fatty acid (SFA) content in the LD (P < 0.05) and increased the unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), mono-unsaturated fatty acids and UFA/SFA ratio in the LD (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, the content of histidine in the LD increased with betaine supplementation. Compared with UPB, RPB supplementation increased the content of total free amino acids and flavor amino acids in the LD of lambs (P < 0.05). With increasing RPB, the isoleucine and phenylalanine contents in the LD linearly increased (P < 0.05). Overall, the data collected indicated that the meat quality of lambs (especially in the LD) improved as a result of betaine supplementation, and RPB showed better effects than those of UPB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • flavor amino acids
  • longissimus dorsi muscle
  • polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • shear force
  • sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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