3 July 1998

BAD TASTE OF STRESS?

STRESS suffered by group housed pigs on a restricted feeding system could be responsible for poor pigmeat eating quality.

The warning, based on research at Newcastle Universitys Cockle Park farm, comes from researcher Jackie Dalby. Pigs fed ad lib show consistent improvements in tenderness and flavour, which may be related to the rate of protein deposition, she says.

Dr Dalby is comparing the performance of pigs fed an ad-lib and a restricted diet, housed at the standard finishing house rate of 18 to a pen, with pigs housed at the rate of three to a pen.

Other group sizes in the MLC funded research are being compared in a concurrent trial at Stotfold.

Pigs, taken from 40kg to 90 kg, are assessed for tenderness, juiciness and flavour by tasting panels.

So does chronic stress, caused by greater competition within pen groups, influence muscle growth and meat quality? It is too early to draw firm conclusions from the trial, explains Dr Dalby.

But she will be on hand at the show to discuss the progress of her work as part of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society-sponsored Northern Universities exhibit. &#42

Pigs that suffer chronic stress could be leaving a sour taste in the mouths of consumers, according to Newcastle Universitys Jackie Dalby.