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Comparison of variability in pork carcass composition and quality betweeen barrows and gilts

M. F. Overholt, E. K. Arkfeld, D. A. Mohrhauser, D. A. King, T. L. Wheeler, A. C. Dilger, S. D. Shackelford, D. D. Boler
Journal of animal science 2016 v.94 no.10 pp. 4415-4426
0021-8812; 1525-3163
adipose tissue, backfat, barns, barrows, carcass quality, carcass weight, color, data analysis, gilts, ham, harvest date, industry, iodine value, lean meat, least squares, loins, marbling, marketing, models, muscles, pH, pig carcasses, slaughter, slaughterhouses, variance, United States
Pigs (n = 8,042) raised in 8 different barns representing 2 seasons (cold and hot) and 2 production focuses (lean growth and meat quality) were used to characterize variability of carcass composition and quality traits between barrows and gilts. Data were collected on 7,684 pigs at the abattoir. Carcass characteristics, subjective loin quality, and fresh ham face color (muscles) were measured on a targeted 100% of carcasses. Fresh belly characteristics, boneless loin weight, instrumental loin color, and ultimate loin pH measurements were collected from 50% of the carcasses each slaughter day. Adipose tissue iodine value (IV), 30-min loin pH, LM slice shear force, and fresh ham muscle characteristic measurements were recorded on 10% of carcasses each slaughter day. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS as a 1-way ANOVA in a randomized complete block design with 2 levels (barrows and gilts). Barn (block), marketing group, production focus, and season were random variables. A 2-variance model was fit using the REPEATED statement of the MIXED procedure, grouped by sex for analysis of least squares means. Homogeneity of variance was tested on raw data using Levene’s test of the GLM procedure. Hot carcass weight of pigs (94.6 kg) in this study was similar to U.S. industry average HCW (93.1 kg). Therefore, these data are representative of typical U.S. pork carcasses. There was no difference (P ≥ 0.09) in variability of HCW or loin depth between barrow and gilt carcasses. Back fat depth and estimated carcass lean were more variable (P ≤ 0.0001) and IV was less variable (P = 0.05) in carcasses from barrows than in carcasses from gilts. Fresh belly weight and thickness were more variable (P ≤0.01) for bellies of barrows than bellies of gilts, but there was no difference in variability for belly length, width, or flop distance (P ≥ 0.06). Fresh loin subjective color was less variable (P < 0.01) and subjective marbling was more variable (P < 0.0001) in loins from barrows than in those from gilts, but there were no differences (P ≥ 0.08) in variability for any other loin traits or fresh ham traits. Overall, traits associated with carcass fatness, including back fat depth, belly thickness, and marbling, but not IV, were more variable in carcasses from barrows than in carcasses from gilts, whereas minimal differences in variability existed between carcasses of barrows and carcasses of gilts for traits associated with carcass muscling and lean quality.