Recent work jointly funded by the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (Sheep CRC) and Meat and Livestock Australia has highlighted the possible unintended consequences of single trait selection for muscling.
As a sheep grows from a lamb to an adult, its bones lengthen at special cartilage growth regions called growth plates. When these close and become converted to bone, growth virtually ceases and the animal is skeletally mature. Though this final fusion might not occur until the sheep is over three years old, length- wise bone growth has slowed to a trickle long before then. A sheep will reach 95% of its final mature leg length at around 1 to 1.5 years of age.
This research was funded jointly by the Sheep CRC and Meat and Livestock Australia and was conducted by staff of Murdoch University.