The use of ultrasound for grading muscle and fat depth in sheep

Meat Grading with Catherine Stowell

Ultrasound makes a huge difference to breeding programmes for a variety of species, but the first thing that usually comes to mind is its use in pregnancy scanning. The Animal Ultrasound Association recently traveled to Switzerland to document the ways ultrasound is being used for meat grading in sheep. Featuring Catherine Stowell, Heinz Plüss and Kathrin Bühler.


About the equipment

Ultrasound machine: The machine shown is the Apogee 2300 portable ultrasound machine, customised for meat grading. The model previously used was the Sonoscape S6v, also with custom-made software and hardware. This model was discontinued in 2019.

Transducer: Linear probes can emit very high frequency ultrasound which gives us high resolution images from which we can measure fat and muscle depth. This allows breeders to select the animals with the best quality meat for their breeding programmes. An image is obtained by locating the third lumbar vertebrae, parting the wool and applying plenty of ultrasound gel so that the probe can make good contact with the skin. Not every country or organisation in the world scans from exactly the same site, but what is important is that every animal within the same database is scanned in the same location every time, to allow results to be comparable and meaningful.


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