March 29, 2007


Canada research shows low birth weights do not reduce pork quality


While piglets of low birth weight reach market weight more slowly than heavier piglets, pork quality is not compromised, according to research conducted by Canada's Prairie Swine Centre.


A jump in the number of piglets born per litter over the past several years has led to lower birth weights per piglet, prompting researchers at the Prairie Swine Centre to examine its effect on growth performance and meat quality.


Piglets with very small birth weight have fewer muscle fibres than their heavier counterparts, and hence those fibres must grow larger for them to reach market weight, said research assistant Dr Denise Beaulieu.


Dr Beaulieu added that while piglets of low birth weight initially grew at a slightly slower pace, their growth rate caught up with their heavier counterparts by the time they were at seven weeks postweaning.


Overall, the smaller birth weight pigs took about ten more days to be released into the market. However, once they were sold at the same body weight as heavier birth weight pigs, no difference in carcass quality was observed, Dr Beaulieu said.

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