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J Anim Sci. 2013 Apr;91(4):1884-92. doi: 10.2527/jas.2012-5357. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Prediction of carcass composition, ham and foreleg weights, and lean meat yields of Iberian pigs using ultrasound measurements in live animals.

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  • 1Research Center of Extremadura "La Orden Valdesequera," Spain. lolayuso@gmail.com


The most valuable lean cuts from Iberian pigs are the hams, forelegs, and loins, which yield high quality cured meat products. This study aimed to assess the correlation between body composition measurements taken in vivo by ultrasonography in Iberian pigs and those taken on the carcass, which were then used to develop predictive models to estimate the weight and yield of these cuts. Before slaughter, 241 Iberian pigs were weighed (slaughter BW) and ultrasonically scanned. Ultrasound images were collected at 3 locations: the 10th intercostal space, caudal to the last rib to image the loin muscle, and the rear gluteal region [ultrasound gluteal backfat (u-GBF)]. After slaughter, the weight of the carcass (CW), ham (HW), foreleg (FW), and loin (LW) were determined, and the sum of these lean cuts weights (CLPW) and the corresponding yields were calculated. A portion of loin with the associated bones, backfat, and skin was obtained by cutting the carcass between the 10th and last ribs and was used to measure, at the 10th (10) and last (14) rib locations, the total backfat thickness, the area of the loin muscle (c-LA), and the thickness of the 4 backfat (BF) layers, namely, the outer (c-OBF), middle (c-MBF), outer plus middle (c-OMBF), and the inner (c-IBF). Finally, intramuscular fat percentages (IMF) were obtained from the meat samples. Corresponding measurements from the ultrasound (u) images were similarly taken at the same 2 ribs (u-BF, u-LA, u-OBF, u-MBF, u-OMBF, and u-IBF). The correlation was greatest between u-MBF10 and c-MBF10 (0.84). Most correlations between ultrasound and carcass measurements were lower at the last rib than at 10th rib. The greatest correlation of IMF10 occurred with u-IBF10 (0.40). Ham weight and HL were more correlated with u-BF10 than with u-BF14 whereas FW was more correlated with u-BF14. The u-LA was more correlated with HW, FW, and LW at the last rib than at the 10th rib. Slaughter live weight accounted for 0.84, 0.42, 0.36, and 0.54% of the variation for the prediction of CW, HW, FW, and CLPW, respectively. The u-LA10 and u-LA14 increased the variation explained by the model up to 0.89, 0.48, 0.39, and 0.62% for CW, HW, FW, and CLPW, respectively. Including u-GBF in the models also increased the R(2) values for predicting HW, LW, HY (ham yield), and LY (loin yield). In conclusion, u-LA10, u-LA14, and u-GBF may improve weight of commercial cuts and yield prediction in live Iberian pigs.

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