22 May 1998

Finisher feeding key to all-round increase in pigmeat quality

TENDERNESS, flavour and healthiness of pigmeat can be improved by changing feed ingredients and feeding methods in the finishing stage.

Speaking at the Pork Chain exhibit at the event, an initiative to improve technology transfer, MLC pig scientist Pinder Gill said much could be done to improve pigmeat quality and make it healthier still.

Changing the energy-to-protein ratio in the feed improves tenderness. "Offering a high energy, low protein diet ad lib towards the end of the finishing period improves meat tenderness," he said.

To improve pork odour and flavour, Dr Gill suggested increasing the level of certain high fibre feeds, such as sugar beet pulp.

And it was possible to make the product even healthier, too. Dr Gill stressed that the fat content in trimmed lean pork was less than 2%, so it was already a low fat product. It also has a better balance of polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids than beef and lamb. Human nutritionists sought a PUFA:S ratio of 0.4 or above. In beef the ratio was 0.1, lamb 0.15 but in pork it was higher at 0.6, making it healthier.

And though pork has lower levels of the sought after omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, the good news is these can be increased naturally by feeding a special linseed supplemented diet to pigs.

Feeding the linseed diet to raise the omega-3 PUFAs has no effect on shelf-life and flavour, said Dr Gill.

MLCs Pinder Gill… Much can be done to improve pigmeat quality.

Improvements to pigmeat

through feeds and feeding


Feeding Improvements

Ad-lib feeding Tenderness

High energy:protein Tenderness

Fibre sources Flavour

PUFAs Healthiness

PUFAs and saturated fats Flavour

Vitamin E Shelf life