10 July 1998

Tenderness testing

RESEARCHERS hope to discover the effect of finishing pigs on an ad-lib or restricted feeding regime, and whether finishing at a set age rather than to a deadweight improves meat quality of pork.

MLC pig scientist Pinder Gill says the trial is designed to test the on-farm factors that affect the tenderness of pork. The research could influence the standard criteria for finishing contracts of the future.

The trial will look at the effect of restricted feeding, which can often be more stressful than ad-lib feeding, finishing at 95kg liveweight or 160-days old to ensure optimum meat tenderness and level of nutrient supply on lean growth.

The MLC has already developed an outline blueprint for production which aims to improve the eating quality of pork. Tests have shown that loins produced in accordance to the blueprint score better for tenderness than those from other systems.

The MLC hopes the trial will reinforce the standards contained within the blueprint and provide a practical guide to improve the quality of pork.

About 1600 pigs covering a range of indoor and outdoor genotypes are being included in the trial, run jointly by the MLC and University of Newcastle. The trial will run until mid-1999 with results published later the same year.