Increasing the Pig Market Weight: World Trends, Expected Consequences and Practical Considerations
The present report has been aimed at reviewing important factors which need to be closely analyzed or considered when increasing the market weight of finishing pigs. The pig market weight has increased worldwide during the past few decades, which is attributable primarily to an increased lean gain potential of finishing pigs. To increase the market weight, however, the acceptability of larger pigs by the packer as well as pork consumers should be met first. By increasing the market weight, total number of breeding stock, as well as the facility for them, necessary for producing a given weight of pork can be reduced, whereas more building space for finishing pigs and an additional nutrition program for the later finishing period are needed. Additionally, a more thorough disease prevention program especially against ileitis and mycoplasma pneumonia may also be needed, because outbreaks of these are known to increase with increasing body weight over 110 kg. Some larger finishing pigs may deposit excessive fat that may be reduced or prevented by using hormonal and/or nutritional agents. Backfat thickness increases linearly with increasing body weight between 110 and 130 kg, whereas intramuscular fat content does not change significantly. With increasing live weight within this range, the ratios of belly and loin to carcass weight also are known to increase. Some physicochemical characteristics related to fresh and cooked meat quality including color, firmness, juiciness, etc. are known to be unaffected or slightly changed following an increase of slaughter weight. In conclusion, ratios of primal cuts and pork quality characteristics are not significantly affected by increasing the market weight. Moreover, increasing the market weight of lean-type pigs approximately up to 130 kg is normally profitable to producers, as long as packers and consumers accept larger pigs.
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