Organic & Conventional Livestock: Carcass Quality

Background and Methodology
Hansson et al (2000) compared the carcass quality in Swedish certified organic meat production with that of conventional meat production slaughtered during 1997. The study involved 3.9 million pigs, 570, 000 cattle and 190, 000 sheep all reared conventionally and 3483 pigs, 4949 cattle and 4997 sheep reared according to organic standards. Data on the pathological findings and condemnation of conventionally reared animals were collected from the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Data on livestock from certified organic herds slaughtered during 1997 were collected on individual basis from 29 abattoirs. 

There was a significant difference between swine from organic system and those reared conventionally with regard to pathological findings at the post-mortem inspection. Plueritis in conventionally reared pigs was 7.4% compared to 1.8% in organic pigs. Ascaris in conventionally reared pigs was 5.6% compared to 4.1% in organic pigs. Carcass evaluation of swine showed a higher meat percentage on conventional swine production. Carcass evaluation of cattle from organic herds gave lower fat content and more developed carcass than that of conventionally reared cattle. Carcass classification results of sheep did not follow the same pattern as the cattle. Fatness score was higher in organic lambs than conventional lamb. Sheep reared both organically and conventionally showed a lower rate of registered abnormalities than swine and cattle.

Hansson I., Hamilton, C., Ekman, T., & Forsluand, K. (2002). Carcass quality in certified organic production compare with conventional livestock production. J. Vet. Med. B 47: 111-120.