Growth of carcass components and its relation with conformation in pigs of three types



Fisher AV, Green D, Whittemore CT, Wood JD & Schofield CP (2003) Growth of carcass components and its relation with conformation in pigs of three types. Meat Science, 65 (1), pp. 639-650.

The growth of carcass tissues and developmental changes in tissue distribution were studied in three pig types which were selected to have morphologies that could be described as attenuated, blocky and flabby. These were achieved by incorporating, respectively, Landrace, Pietrain and Meishan genes to give commercial 'types' (designated L, P and M,) exhibiting some of the phenotypic qualities of these breeds. Twenty-five female pigs of each type with an average start weight of 27.2 kg were fed ad libitum and slaughtered over a (nominal) live weight range of 35-115 kg. Relations were quantified using the logarithmic transformation of data in the allometric model. Significant type differences in relative growth rates (the b coefficient or slope in the logarithmic plot) were not common, occurring in 14% of the relationships examined, whereas 61% of differences in the constant term (a or intercept in the logarithmic plot) were significant. Increase in carcass weight with age was not different between the types but in relation to slaughter live weight (dressing percentage) P had the highest value, M the lowest. Carcass dimensions showed that, relative to body length, P had the widest ham and shoulder over the whole size range whereas M had a deep (ventral-dorsal) shoulder and wide belly, attributes of shape that would be regarded as undesirable by the meat trade. Relative to carcass weight, L was only slightly longer (3 mm) in the body than M at the heavy end of the weight range but markedly longer (29 mm) than P. These differences in carcass conformation were also evident in the shape of pelvic limb muscles which, at a given length, were lightest and narrowest in M and, in some cases, heavier and wider in P than in L. Pelvic limb volume relative to limb length was greatest in P and least in M. Carcass composition (at a given prepared side weight) of P was characterized by low fat and high lean weights, and a high lean to bone ratio. Subcutaneous fat b was lowest in P, indicating that P was early maturing, but M carcasses had the most subcutaneous and intermuscular fat, also indicative of early maturing. There was, thus, no simple relation between maturity characteristics and carcass composition. M carcasses also had the greatest weight of skin. P had a light hindloin and heavy pelvic limb, M a heavy shoulder, hindloin and flank but a light pelvic limb; L had a light shoulder but a heavy foreloin. The distribution of individual tissues mirrored these differences in joint weights to a varying extent; in most cases the match (relatively heavy/light) was with a single tissue. These data, thus, indicated some pig type differences in tissue distribution and of particular significance was the relatively light lean mass in the pelvic limb of M. The results showed important differences in carcass quality between commercially available pig types differing in conformation.

pig growth; carcass composition; conformation differences

Meat Science: Volume 65, Issue 1

Publication date30/09/2003

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Dr Darren Green

Dr Darren Green

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Aquaculture