11 February 2000

Tough ad-lib query

DOES restricted feeding produce pigmeat which is less tender than ad-lib feeding?

That theory is being invest-igated by the MLC at its Stotfold pig unit, says the organisations meat scientist, Kim Matthews.

"We are looking at why ad-lib feeding tends to produce more tender meat. One theory is that it is related to feeding competition and stress, so we are looking at different group sizes and trough spaces.

"Another theory that we are investigating in the trial is whether the difference is due to hunger stress, so we are comparing restricted rations which are only 80% of that pigs would eat on an ad-lib system with ad-lib diets."

The four treatments are ad-lib, normal diet; ad-lib diet, but with non-nutritional components such as straw increasing the diets bulk; a restricted ration; and a restricted, but nutrient dense ration containing the same nutrient intake as ad-lib rations, but feeding the same amount as the restricted diet.

"We hope to separate out the effects of ad-lib and restricted feeding. The feeding trial is just about to end, and we will be carrying out carcass assessments after that, with results expected in about six months time," adds Mr Matthews. &#42