Meat and milk quality of sheep and goat fed with cactus pear
Keywords:Cactus pear, small ruminants, conjugated linolenic acid, linoleic acid, lipid profile.
Consumer demand for quality food products is increasing rapidly, motivating a similar interest
in the production sectors. Meat and milk quality can be evaluated from the perspective of the
producer, where high yields and profits are sought. From the consumer viewpoint, sensorial
characteristics are the most important, although, nowadays, welfare and health are also
imperative. This has increased the demand for better characteristics and fatty acid
differentiation in products of animal origin. In general, sheep meat it is considered milder than
goat meat, principally due to the higher lipid content, however, both types of meat are well
appreciated by consumers. Goat milk is highly valued for its characteristics and is commonly
used to feed children and adults with allergic and gastrointestinal problems. The lipid profile
of meat and milk products depends on what the animal eats, consequently, the feed has an
important role in improving the products. Cactus pear is an excellent feed for animals in
semiarid regions. Cactus pear consumption has been shown to increment the linoleic,
linolenic and conjugated linolenic acid fatty acids, without modifying the sensorial quality of
goat and sheep products.