Environmental effects on pig performance, meat quality, and muscle characteristics

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

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82 Scopus citations


The objective of this experiment was to determine the effect of diverse production systems on pig performance, muscle characteristics, and their relation to pork quality measures. Birth and rearing conditions were evaluated using 48 barrows during the fall/ winter months. Pigs were farrowed in either indoor crates or outdoor huts. At weaning, indoor- and outdoor-born pigs were allotted randomly to treatments arranged in a 2 x 2 factorial design with two birth (indoor vs. outdoor) and rearing (indoor vs. outdoor) environments. Pigs housed indoors were on concreteslatted flooring (1.2 m2/pig), and pigs housed outdoors were on an alfalfa pasture (212 m2/pig). Body weight data were collected. Muscle samples were removed within 1 h postmortem from the longissimus (LM) and semimembranosus (SM) muscles. Muscle samples were stained histochemically to identify type I, IIA, and IIB/ X muscle fibers. 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 a greater ADG at most growth intervals postweaning (d 28, 56, and 112; P < 0.05) than pigs born indoors. Pigs reared outdoors were heavier (P = 0.02) at d 140 (120.1 vs. 112.9 ± 4.9 kg), and had higher (P = 0.01) ADG (2.2 vs. 1.9 kg/d) and gain:feed ratios (0.41 vs. 0.37) than did pigs reared indoors. Birth x rearing environment interactions were not significant (P > 0.10) for most measures. Carcass and meat quality measures did not differ (P > 0.05) among treatment groups, but loin chops from outdoor born or reared pigs had higher (P < 0.05) a* values than chops from pigs born or reared indoors. The LM muscle of pigs born outdoors had a higher (P < 0.01) percentage of type I, and a lower (P < 0.05) percentage of type IIA fibers than did pigs born indoors. Pigs reared outdoors had a higher (P < 0.01) percentage of IIA fibers and a lower (P < 0.05) percentage of IIB/X fibers than did pigs reared indoors for the LM and SM muscles. Outdoor production systems may influence growth, pork color, and muscle fiber types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Environment
  • Meat Quality
  • Muscle Fibers
  • Pigs


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