Production Systems and Pork Quality

Background and Methodology
In pork production, factors of potential importance for meat quality in various production systems include differences in the level of spontaneous activity depending on space allowance, exposure to climatic conditions, a changed diet including varying ratios between concentrates and roughage and alterations in the feed composition as well as an enriched environment with many stimuli. In general, partial replacement of concentrates in the feed with roughage may result in poorer feed conversion and slower growth rates for organically produced pigs compared to those produced conventionally. This may in turn affect the protein turnover of the muscle and reduce the tenderness of the meat. This paper focuses on scientific research into the effects of different production systems on technological, nutritional and sensory meat quality with emphasis on pork.

Some studies indicate reduced water-holding capacity in sustainably produced pork. Outdoor production may be expected to increase further the shear force of the meat compared to conventional systems. The color of meat may be affected in different ways leading to either darker or more pigmented meat or paler, structurally effected meat. The more unsaturated profile of the lipids in meat produced in a system that includes feeds containing polyunsaturated fatty acids is favorable with respect to the nutritional quality meat.

Olsson, V. & Pickova, J. (2005). The influence of production systems on meat quality, with emphasis on pork. Ambio 34(4-5):338-343.