Impact of spontaneous exercise on performance, meat quality, and muscle fiber characteristics of growing/finishing pigs

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The objective of this experiment was to determine if increased space and exercise for finisher pigs (0.90 vs 9.45 m2/pig) affects performance, meat quality, or muscle fiber characteristics. Newsham barrows (n = 32, 4 pens/treatment) were placed in one of two space allocations: control space allowance (CONT) or in a long pen with increased space allowance (10x). Pigs were weighed every 28 d and feed intake/pen was calculated. Pigs were filmed for behavioral analysis on d 70 and 100 using video recorders to determine walking distances over a 24-h period. After a 5-h transport and 2-h rest period, pigs (approximately 115 kg) were slaughtered on the same day at a commercial facility. Muscle samples were obtained from the longissimus lumborum (LL) and semimembranosus (SM) muscles within 1 h postmortem for muscle fiber typing. Backfat thickness and pH decline were measured on the left side of each carcass. After 24-h chilling, a boneless loin was collected from each pig and stored at 2°C until analyzed. On d 14 postmortem, loins were cut at the 10th rib for color evaluations, and chops were cut for Warner-Bratzler shear (WBS) force and sensory analysis. Histochemical staining methods were used for the detection of type I, IIA, and IIB/X muscle fiber types. There were no significant differences (P > 0.10) in live weight, ADG, ADFI, or G:F ratio of the two experimental groups evaluated. Pigs finished in 10x pens walked a greater (P < 0.01) distance over a 24-h period than pigs finished in the CONT pens. Pigs finished in the 10x pens were fatter (P < 0.05) at the last lumbar vertebra than pigs finished in the CONT pens, but no significant differences were found in loineye area, loin color, marbling scores, WBS, sensory panel scores, retail display measures, or muscle fiber type percentages. Expanded space allowance to increase exercise resulted in no improvements in pig performance, pork loin measures, or muscle characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2833-2839
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Exercise
  • Meat Quality
  • Pigs
  • Spacing


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