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Effects of heat stress on animal physiology, metabolism, and meat quality: A review

Gonzalez-Rivas, Paula A., Chauhan, Surinder S., Ha, Minh, Fegan, Narelle, Dunshea, Frank R., Warner, Robyn D.
Meat science 2020 v.162 pp. 108025
animal health, bacterial growth, food safety, glycogen, glycogenolysis, heat stress, insulating materials, lipids, meat, meat quality, muscles, oxidation, oxidative stress, pH, poultry, rumen fermentation, ruminants, shelf life, slaughter, sweating, swine, water holding capacity
Heat stress is one of the most stressful events in the life of livestock with harmful consequences for animal health, productivity and product quality. Ruminants, pigs and poultry are susceptible to heat stress due to their rapid metabolic rate and growth, high level of production, and species-specific characteristics such as rumen fermentation, sweating impairment, and skin insulation. Acute heat stress immediately before slaughter stimulates muscle glycogenolysis and can result in pale, soft and exudative (PSE) meat characterized by low water holding capacity (WHC). By contrast, animals subjected to chronic heat stress, have reduced muscle glycogen stores resulting in dark, firm and dry (DFD) meat with high ultimate pH and high WHC. Furthermore, heat stress leads to oxidative stress, lipid and protein oxidation, and reduced shelf life and food safety due to bacterial growth and shedding. This review discusses the scientific evidence regarding the effects of heat stress on livestock physiology and metabolism, and their consequences for meat quality and safety.