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Interpretive Summary: Pork quality traits and associated muscle metabolic changes in pigs under chronic prenatal and postnatal heat stress

By: Bénédicte Lebret, Aira Maye Serviento, David Renaudeau

Pig thermal environment and especially chronic heat stress (HS) can affect animal growth and physiology, with potential impacts on carcass and pork quality. The effects of chronic HS during postnatal growth (GHS) on pork quality are controversial, but the effects of chronic HS during the pig prenatal period (PHS) or of combined PHS and GHS on carcass and meat traits are even less characterized. However, a better understanding of HS consequences on pork quality is of high economic importance for the pork sector, as the frequency and severity of heat waves are likely to increase with global warming. This research focused on the effects of PHS and GHS on pork carcass and meat quality from various muscles and primary cuts (loin, ham), and the underlying muscle biochemical properties. Prenatal HS did not affect growth and carcass traits. Compared with pigs grown in a thermoneutral environment, GHS pigs had reduced gain resulting from lower feed intake and had lighter carcasses, but similar carcass lean meat content. PHS had little effect on pork quality, whereas GHS induced specific metabolic effects in the loin and ham muscles, leading to higher meat pH and water-holding capacity and thereby improved pork technological quality.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.