Like many topics in the livestock industry, meat quality is complex and multifactorial. Various aspects of this theme were discussed in a webinar by All About Feed on 6 July. The webinar is now available for re-viewing for free.
The webinar featured 3 expert speakers and was held in cooperation with feed additives company Orffa and pig genetics company Topigs Norsvin. Each presenter shared their view on improving meat quality, after which there was plenty of room for questions and answers.
First speaker at the webinar was Dr Bénédicte Lebret, attached to the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE). With a focus on pig meat, she explained the various ways how to consider ‘meat quality’, mentioning attributes related to senses, nutrition, image, convenience, technology, safety or commerce.
She discussed a recent research in which both genetic and nutritional strategies were combined to improve intrinsic and extrinsic quality attributes of pork. Both Duroc and Piétrain boars were used in a mating programme with 60 crossbred females, and the animals received either a control diet of soybeans, rapeseed and peeled sunflower, or a more experimental meal containing extruded faba beans and linseed plus vitamin E.
All in all, she concluded, a combination of Duroc pigs with the experimental meal improved the sensory, technological, nutritional and image quality attributes of pork, “but it needs a better valuation of their higher sensory quality”.
Next on stage was Jolien van Soest, central technical officer at Orffa. She discussed selenium, which is a mineral that can improve meat quality. She also pointed out that supplying it in the form of the organic feed additive L-selenomethionine, there is extra added value than when offering it in other compounds.
She supported this by pointing to a trial in Bonsmara beef cattle in South Africa. The meat of animals that had been supplied with L-selenomethionine had a reduced drip loss as well as an improved tenderness, Van Soest said. Similar findings also showed up in trials that were done with meat quality broilers as well as finisher pigs.
The webinar’s last speaker was Dr Grant Walling, senior service geneticist at Topigs Norsvin, and also head of the company’s Meat Group. He subdivided the pork market into higher lean/lower quality, medium lean/medium quality, and lower lean/higher quality.
The emphasis on meat quality differs between genetic lines, he said. He added that genetics do have some influence but hereditability is limited. In most traits, like for instance colour, pH, drip loss, tenderness or fat firmness, he pointed to percentages between 20 and 40%. “Balancing selection is challenging,” he concluded, “with meat quality versus economic production traits.”
With a smirk, he closed off showing an image of Gordon Ramsay, adding: “What we cannot control is the chef!”