The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of different seasons and gender on the physical and chemical composition of black wildebeest (Connochaetus gnou) meat. Twenty-six black wildebeest were harvested at Maria Moroka Nature Reserve, in the Free State Province, South Africa, during winter, spring and autumn. Mean body and carcass weight did not differ (P > 0.05) between either seasons or genders. However, dressing percentage was higher (P < 0.05) for males (53.19%) than for females (50.65%). Initial (pH45min) and ultimate pH (pH24h) of the M. longissimus dorsi differed (P > 0.05) between seasons, whereas differences (P < 0.05) in temperature of carcasses measured 24 h post-mortem could be ascribed to differences in ambient temperature. Meat from animals harvested during spring (5.52 and 39.63%) had a higher (P ≤ 0.05) drip and cooking loss compared to those harvested in winter (2.27 and 34.59%) and autumn (3.61 and 33.88%). Meat was the most (P < 0.05) tender during autumn (2.27 kg/1.27 cm diameter) while that of females was more tender than the males. The colour of the meat was darker in winter (L*-value of 28.90) compared to spring (34.08) and autumn (32.91). Protein content of the m. longissimus dorsi was lowest (P < 0.05) in spring (20.45%). Lipid content was highest (P < 0.05) in winter (1.22%) and also lowest (P < 0.05) in males (0.90). Although season has significant Influences on some physical and chemical characteristics of meat from the black wildebeest, the extent of these differences does not necessitate a different classification system.
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