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Repeated handling of pigs during rearing. II. Effect of reactivity to humans on aggression during mixing and on meat quality

Abstract : The present study was designed to determine whether reactivity toward humans can be used to predict a pig's reactivity to the slaughter procedure as measured by postmortem muscle metabolism. Forty-two pigs were group-reared in six pens with straw-bedding. Pigs received regular positive (HI) or mildly negative (RC) handling training in a separate pen for 40 d before slaughter. Control pigs remained in their home pens throughout rearing. Pigs were slaughtered at a commercial packing plant, and half of each treatment group (HI, RC, or controls) was accompanied by the handler throughout mixing and transportation, as well as a portion of the lairage time and introduction to the holding pens situated before the slaughter room, whereas the other half was not accompanied by the handler. Muscle pH and temperature, objective color (L*, a*, and b* values), and drip loss were measured on the LM, biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and adductor femoris. Prior handling experience did not in itself influence ultimate meat quality (P > 0.37); however, the presence of the negative handler (RC pigs) at slaughter accelerated (P < 0.06) preslaughter glycogen breakdown in the LM. Fighting behavior during mixing explained between 13 and 32% of the variability of lightness (L* values) of the LM, biceps femoris, and semimembranosus. Visual contact with the handler at the start of the handling training and number of fights initiated explained between 31 and 42% of the variability in ultimate muscle pH. Latency to approaching the handler during human exposure tests explained 20% of the variability in initial muscle temperature of two muscles. Fighting behavior during mixing could be partly predicted from fighting during a food competition test conducted at the start of the rearing period. Results indicate that reactivity to humans and the tendency to fight determined, in part, meat quality in pigs of similar genetic and rearing backgrounds. These behavioral characteristics were, to some extent, determined early in life. Handling experience modified behavior toward the handler but correlations between behavioral characteristics and meat quality were not influenced by prior handling experience.
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Soumis le : dimanche 31 mai 2020 - 21:30:56
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Claudia Terlouw, Jocelyne Porcher, Xavier Fernandez. Repeated handling of pigs during rearing. II. Effect of reactivity to humans on aggression during mixing and on meat quality. Journal of Animal Science, American Society of Animal Science, 2005, 83 (7), pp.1664-1672. ⟨hal-02679505⟩

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