Free-range Pigs and Carcass Quality

Background and methodology
Carcass conformation, meat quality, fatty acid patterns of backfat and sensory quality characteristics (tenderness, juiciness, smell and taste) of scharrel (free range) pigs and animals from intensive fattening systems were compared.
Both groups of pigs consisted of 80 animals, which were slaughtered in batches of 20 pigs per group. The measurements included hot carcass weight, HGP, pH and FOP measurements and a score for intrathoracal fat deposition, all performed early post mortem and marbling, color, drip and cooking loss and Warner-Bratzler (W-B) shear force measurements in loin chops after 1 and 3 days storage at 4oC. 25% of the carcasses were used in taste-panel analyses. 

The overall meat quality of scharrel pigs was not significantly different form that of pigs from intensive fattening systems. W-B shear force values of scharrel pigs were slightly higher. The analytical panel assessed minor differences in taste and smell. The inconsistency of the description concerning these differences did not allow any conclusions. An increase in the amount of linoleic acid was observed in the scharrel pigs.

van der Wal, P. G., Mateman, G. de Vries, A. W., Vonder, F. J. M., Smulders, G. H. & Engel, G. B. (1993). ‘Scharrel’ (free range) pigs: carcass composition, meat quality and taste-panel studies. Meat Science 34: 27-37.