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Meat Sci. 1998 Mar;48(3-4):287-300.

Effects of age and/or weight at slaughter on longissimus dorsi muscle: Biochemical traits and sensory quality in pigs.

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Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Hacquetova 17, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


The effect of increasing either age alone through feed restriction, or both age and weight at slaughter, on the quality of the longissimus dorsi muscle (LM) was investigated. Starting at 83 days of age and 32 kg, 80 pigs were allotted within litter to four experimental groups. All pigs were free of RYR1 mutated gene. Pigs were fed either ad libitum (A100, A130) or restricted 30% (R100, R130) and slaughtered at either 100 kg (A 100, R100) or 130 kg (A130, R130) body weight. Restricting feed intake in order to increase age at the same weight resulted in slower growth, better feed efficiency and increased leanness, whereas increasing age and weight simultaneously elicited slower growth, reduced feed efficiency and fatter carcasses. Intramuscular fat (IMF) and muscle collagen concentration were reduced by restricted feeding. Increase in both age and weight of pigs resulted in lower water, and higher protein and IMF concentrations. Although pigs were free of RYR1 gene, the PSE condition (defined as pH1 ≤ 5.9) developed in 25 carcasses, with a higher incidence in restricted pigs. PSE animals were excluded from the subsequent analysis of meat quality data. Feed restriction resulted in higher drip loss and lower a(∗) and c(∗) (saturation index) values. Longer myofibril fragments in muscle of restricted pigs on day 1 post mortem are indicative of slower maturation, while longer fragments on day 4 in heavier pigs, suggest that the extent of post mortem tenderisation could be negatively affected by the elevation of slaughter weight. Feed restriction had no significant effect on meat sensory quality, whereas increase in both age and weight resulted in lower tenderness, chewiness and mouth coating scores. Our results indicate that increasing age at a given body weight, via feed restriction, reduced IMF and collagen concentrations, and the rate of post mortem proteolysis, however, this had no significant impact on pork quality assessed after 4 days of ageing. On the other hand, increasing both age and weight at slaughter could alter pork texture, in spite of elevated IMF concentration.


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