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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Meat Science

Characterization of variability in pork carcass composition and primal quality123


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 95 No. 2, p. 697-708
    Received: Oct 05, 2016
    Accepted: Dec 22, 2016
    Published: March 3, 2017

    4 Corresponding author(s):

  1. E. K. Arkfeld*,
  2. D. A. Mohrhauser,
  3. D. A. King,
  4. T. L. Wheeler,
  5. A. C. Dilger*,
  6. S. D. Shackelford and
  7. D. D. Boler 4*
  1. * Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 61801
     Smithfield Foods, Denison, IA 51442; and
     USDA, ARS, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE 68933


The objective was to characterize the factors and production practices that contribute to variation in pork composition and quality. It is possible the variation in pork quality traits, such as color, marbling, and tenderness, contributes to reduced customer confidence in the predictability of finished product quality and, therefore, pork products becoming less competitive for consumer dollars. Pigs raised in 8 different barns representing 2 seasons (hot and cold) and 2 production focuses (lean and quality) were used in this study. Pigs were marketed in 3 groups from each barn and marketing procedures followed commercial marketing procedures. Data were collected on a total of 7,684 pigs. The mivque0 option of the VARCOMP procedure in SAS was used to evaluate the proportion of variation each independent variable (season, production focus, marketing group, sex, and random variation) contributed to total variance. Random variation including inherent biological differences, as well as factors not controlled in this study, contributed the greatest proportion to total variation for each carcass composition and quality trait. Pig and other factors contributed to 93.5% of the variation in HCW, and marketing group, sex, season, and production focus accounted for 4.1, 1.4, 0.8, and 0.3%, respectively. Variation in percent carcass lean was attributed to production focus (36.4%), sex (15.8%), and season (10.2%). Pig and other factors contributed the greatest percentage of total variation (39.4%). Loin weight variation was attributed to production focus (21.4%), sex (5.4%), season (2.7%), marketing group (1.8%), and pig (68.7%). Belly weight variation was attributed to pig (88.9%), sex (4.1%), marketing group (3.8%), production focus (3.0%), and season (0.1%). Variation in ham weight was attributed to pig and other factors (93.9%), marketing group (2.8%), production focus (2.2%), and season (1.1%). Ultimate pH variation was attributed to pig (88.5%), season (6.2%), production focus (2.4%), marketing group (2.2%), and sex (0.7%). Aside from pig (71.9%), production focus (14.0%) was the next largest contributor to variation in iodine value followed by sex (13.2%) and marketing group (0.9%). Variation in carcass quality and composition could be accounted for, but the greatest percentage of variation was due to factors not accounted for in normal marketing practices.

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