Meat Quality

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Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

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Author(s): Beattie VE;Burrows MS;Moss BW;Weatherup RN;
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Reference: , vol. 62: pp. 413-418.


Research has demonstrated that the quality of the carcass and the meat that is ultimately produced is influenced by the type of management a pig receives during the period immediately prior to slaughter. This study was conducted to determine the effects of repeated food deprivation prior to slaughter on performance, feeding behaviour and meat quality of pigs. Three experimental treatments were compared. In the treatment 1 pigs had ad libitum access to feed up to the point of loading on the day of slaughter. Treatment 2 involved a 12-h fast prior to slaughter and treatment 3 involved a 20-h fast prior to slaughter. Pigs were slaughtered on a weight basis therefore each pen was emptied over a period of weeks. This meant some pigs experienced repeated food deprivation. The feeding pattern of pigs, which were deprived of food for 12 h, was very similar to that observed before feed restriction. Pigs which were deprived of food for 20 h spent significantly more time at the feeder post fasting. This was particularly marked during the first 2-3 h when access to feed was restored. Feed deprivation for 12 h prior to slaughter did not adversely affect performance, carcass weight, meat quality or welfare of pigs in the present study. This is beneficial to producers by saving approximately 1.5 kg feed per pig, processors by reducing waste and consumers by improving food safety. Fasting for 20 h reduced carcass weight by 1 kg, which was not statistically significant but could result in financial losses related to carcass weight. The negative effects on meat quality, of repeated feed deprivation, resulted from slower growth rates than feed deprivation per se.

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