The effects of breed cross on performance and meat quality of once-bred gilts in a seasonal outdoor rearing system
Abstract. This study investigated the suitability of once-bred gilts of two different breed crosses in an alternative seasonal outdoor rearing system, with slaughter of the once-bred gilts and their progeny at the end of the season. In total 38 once-bred gilts (Large White x Landrace (LW*L) and Large White x Duroc (LW*D) were housed outdoors one month before farrowing until slaughter, 2-3 weeks after weaning. Body weight, backfat thickness and litter size of the once-bred gilts, and pre-weaning mortality and growth of the piglets were recorded. Carcass quality and technological meat quality (pHu, internal and surface reflectance, water-holding capacity, processing yield and shear-force) of m. longissimus dorsi were measured. Sensory meat quality (taste panel) of oven-baked loin (m. longissimus dorsi) and cured and smoked ham (m. semimembranosus) was investigated. LW*L once-bred gilts had more piglets at weaning, whereas growth rate of LW*D progeny was higher; pre-weaning mortality and litter weight did not differ between the breeds. LW*L had higher lean meat content and lower backfat thickness. Technological meat quality and chemical composition did not considerably differ between the two breed crosses. LW*D had higher quality with regard to meat flavour and stringiness, but tended to have lower quality with regard to juiciness of cured and smoked ham, compared with LW*L.