Meat Quality Traits of Organic and Conventional Pigs

Abstract: The objective of the study was to evaluate performance from birth until slaughter, as well as final carcass and meat quality, of pigs raised either conventionally (n=32) or respecting organic standards (n=35) using commercially available organic feed mixtures. Lower (22%) feed intake from weaning until week 11 was noted for organic pigs. As a consequence, organic pigs had lower growth rate persisting until week 22. In the last phase (weeks 22 to 26) when food intake was limited, growth rate declined in conventional, and increased in organic, pigs. All pigs were slaughtered at the usual commercial age (26 weeks). Due to the slower growth, organic pigs had lower carcass weight, dressing %, smaller longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle, and lighter hams, while no differences were observed in fat tissue measurements and carcass leanness (the exception being the area of fat over LD). Analysis for the same slaughter weight indicated that organic pigs would have fatter carcasses as conventional pigs if slaughtered at the same weight. With regard to meat quality, a higher ultimate pH and intramuscular fat content were observed for organic pigs. The results of the present study indicate possible problems (lower feed intake, growth retardation) associated with the use of commercially available organic diets for piglets. On the other hand such diets can increase intramuscular fat content, which is interesting in terms of improved meat quality.

Reference:  Prevolnik, M., et. al. (2011). Growth, carcass and meat quality traits of pigs raised under organic or conventional rearing systems using commercially available feed mixtures. Slovenian Veterinary Research 48(1): 15-26.