Comparison of Meat Quality of Various Organic Poultry Strains

Abstract: The characteristics of meat quality, chemical and fatty acid composition, from fast-growing (FG) and medium-growing (MG) meat-type and slow-growing (SG) egg-type chickens reared under organic conditions were compared. Three-hundred and sixty 1-day-old male chicks, equally divided into three experimental groups represented by strains (FG: Cobb 700, MG: Naked neck Kabir and SG: Brown Classic Lohman) were housed into three poultry houses with outdoor pasture availability of 10 m(2)/bird located in the same Research Centre of the University of Perugia. All the birds were fed ad libitum the same diets formulated according to the European Union (EU) Regulations by using organic raw materials. Birds from the FG and MG groups were raised until 81 days, whereas birds from the SG group were raised until 96 days in order to achieve an acceptable market live weight. SG birds showed significantly (P < 0.01) higher breast meat drip and cook losses, Allo-Kramer shear values and collagen content. In comparison with FG and SG, MG exhibited a higher breast meat pH (5.86% v. 5.79% and 5.78%, respectively; P < 0.01) and a lower lightness (54.88% v. 57.81% and 56.98%, respectively; P < 0.05). Genotype dramatically affected the lipid content as well as the fatty acid composition of both breast and thigh meat. SG exhibited the lowest content of lipid, both in breast and in thigh meat, the lowest proportions of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and the highest proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The total n-3 PUFA of SG breast meat was double that of FG meat and intermediate with respect to MG birds (8.07% v. 4.07% v. 5.14% total fatty acids; P < 0.01). The fatty acid composition of thigh meat is similar to that of breast meat, but the differences among genotypes are less pronounced. Total saturated fatty acids were not affected by the genotype. In conclusion, meat functional properties of FG and MG strains appeared much more attractive both for industry and consumer (lower drip and cook losses and higher tenderness), whereas from a nutritional point of view, meat from SG appeared healthier (less fat and higher content of n-3 PUFA) and thus might better fit with the consumer's expectations of organic products.

Reference: Sirri, F., Castellini, C., Bianchi, M., Petracci, M., Meluzzi, A., and Franchini, A. (2011). Effect of fast-, medium-, and slow-growing strains on meat quality of chickens reared under the organic farming method. Animal 5(2): 312-319. Available online at: