17 May 1996

Pig slaughter weight crucial

HIGHER slaughter weights will become increasingly important to UK processors as they compete for pigmeat on the European market.

So said John Hughes production director for Cambridge-based processors Dalehead foods. Speaking at the Cotswold Pig Development companys annual pre-pig fair dinner in Stratford, Mr Hughes said: "Reducing the cost of good-quality, lean meat will be a priority to ensure manufacturers continue to buy British pork."

Though MLC figures show that average slaughter weights have increased from 83kg to 90kg liveweight over the past 10 years, the average liveweight for pigs processed by Dalehead is now 100kg. The heavier carcasses yield more lean meat and have a better lean-to-fat ratio, said Mr Hughes

"Conformation also has a dramatic effect on lean-meat yield, with differences of between £2 and £5 a carcass from pigs with average and good conformation."

"Our future buying strategy will focus on pigs which exhibit the characteristics which give us extra returns at higher weights. These include good conformation, a high lean percentage, and improved shelf-life and eating quality."

&#8226 Cotswold announced the introduction of two new boars at the meeting. The Cotswold 2008 will be marketed as a fast growing, bacon-type sire with a large mature size. It has been bred to produce progeny with low P2 fat measurements at higher slaughter weight. The Cotswold 2010 is a meat-type boar with heavy muscling, giving an enhanced yield of lean meat and a higher killing-out percentage.

, said the company. It guaranteed both to be halothane gene-free to improve shelf-life and eating quality.