Muscle fiber, connective tissue and meat quality characteristics of pork from low birth weight pigs as affected by diet-induced increased fat absorption and preferential muscle marbling
Received: Jul 28, 2023 ; Revised: Sep 07, 2023 ; Accepted: Sep 15, 2023
Published Online: Sep 21, 2023
This study investigated how birth weight differences in piglets affected carcass and muscle fiber properties as well as meat quality at slaughter. Within litters, piglets were grouped according to their birth weight as either normal (NBW; 1.62-1.73 kg) or low (LBW; 1.18-1.29 kg). At 5 weeks old, NBW piglets were randomly transitioned to control (C) or isocaloric high fat diets derived from non-dairy (HF), while LBW piglets were randomly transitioned to high fat diets derived from non-dairy (HF) or dairy sources (HFHD). Piglets were reared in individual pens under standardized housing and feeding conditions. Live weight was recorded weekly, and pigs were slaughtered at 12 weeks of age. Hot carcass weights, dressing percentages, lean meat yield, and primal cut proportions were determined. The m. longissimusthoracis was collected from the right side of the carcass for measurement of physical and chemical properties of meat and muscle fiber characteristics. Results indicated that LBW pigs compensated for their live weight compared to NBW pigs at 6 weeks of age. The mean muscle fiber diameter of LBW-HFHD group is significantly higher than NBW-C and NBW-HF group, and the type I muscle fiber diameter is significantly higher than NBW-C group. Dairy fat inclusion in LBW pig diet reduced carcass back fat thickness. This increased the calculated lean meat yield to be comparable to that of NBW pigs fed a commercial diet. Incorporating dairy sources high fat into LBW pigs' diets appears to be an effective strategy for producing carcasses equivalent to NBW pigs.