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Final Pork Quality Unaffected by Low Birth Weight

by 5m Editor
22 August 2008, at 11:18am

CANADA - Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre shows, while small birth weight piglets will grow slower than their larger litter mates, the quality of the meat they produce will be equal, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As litter size has increased, average birth weight has decreased and the number of small birth weight piglets has been on the rise.

In an effort to assess the impact of litter size and birth weight on the eating quality of the pork scientists at the Prairie Swine Centre recorded the order of birth and the birth weights of approximately 12 hundred piglets, monitored their performance through to slaughter and had the meat from a representative sample tested for eating quality.

Research scientist nutrition Dr. Denise Beaulieu explains work done in Germany has shown that very small birth weight piglets have a different type of muscle fibre at birth and scientists wanted to determine what effect that difference would have on the eating quality of the pork.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre

We showed that indeed birth weight, as we expected, did have an impact on performance.

Smaller birth weight piglets grew slower throughout the entire study and this we actually expected, however we could not see a correlation with litter size.

That is, just because a piglet is born to a large litter, does not necessarily mean he will grow slower so birth weight but not litter size had an impact on performance.

We did not see any effect of birth weight on eating quality of the meat and that was using very detailed studies that were done at Lacombe and this included chemical studies and sensory studies using a trained taste panel.

They could not detect any effect of birth weight on eating quality of the meat.


Dr. Beaulieu says the research shows producers can continue to select for larger litter size without having to worry about its impact on pork quality.

5m Editor