Diverse birth and rearing environment effects on pig growth and meat quality

J. G. Gentry, J. J. McGlone, M. F. Miller, J. R. Blanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Birth and rearing conditions were evaluated for their effects on pig growth, body composition, and pork quality using 48 barrows during the spring and summer months. Pigs were either farrowed in indoor crates or outdoor huts. At weaning, indoor-born and outdoor-born pigs were randomly allotted to indoor or outdoor treatments for growing/finishing. Body weight data were collected. Pigs were transported 5 h to a commercial processing plant, allowed 2 h of rest, and then processed as a group under commercial conditions. Boneless loins were collected from the left side of each carcass and aged for 14 d. Objective and subjective color measurements were taken on the longissimus muscle at the 10th rib on d 14 postmortem. Loin chops were evaluated for sensory attributes, shear force, and retail display features. Pigs born outdoors were heavier and had greater ADG at all growth intervals after weaning (d 28, 56, 112, and final weight, P < 0.05) than pigs born indoors. Outdoor-born pigs had heavier carcass weights (91.2 vs 81.3 ± 3.4 kg, P < 0.001), larger loineye areas (54.6 vs 49.7 ± 0.2 cm 2, P < 0.05), and higher pork flavor intensity scores (6.5 vs 6.1 ± 0.10, P < 0.01) than indoor-born pigs. Birth x rearing environment interactions were not significant for most measures. Backfat measurements at the last rib were greater (3.2 vs 2.8 ± 0.05 cm, P < 0.05) for the pigs reared outdoors than for the pigs reared indoors. Pigs finished outdoors had more reddish pink color scores, lower shear force values, and lower L* values, indicating darker-colored pork, compared with pigs finished indoors (P < 0.05). Pig birth environment played a significant role in improving growth rates of outdoor-born pigs and increasing pork flavor intensity scores of loin chops from pigs born outdoors. Finishing pigs outdoors may improve pork color and tenderness but also may increase backfat thickness when they are fed conventional diets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1707-1715
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002


  • Environment
  • Meat quality
  • Pigs
  • Pork


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