Effects of betaine, pen space, and slaughter handling method on growth performance, carcass traits, and pork quality of finishing barrows

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An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of betaine, pen space, and preslaughter handling method on growth, carcass traits, and pork quality of finishing barrows. For the growth trial, a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments was used: betaine (0 or 0.250%) and(or) pen space (m2/pig; adequate, 0.035 BW0.67 kg, or inadequate, 0.025 BW0.67 kg). Each treatment was replicated five times with four barrows per replicate. At trial termination, two barrows from each pen were selected to receive either minimal or normal preslaughter handling. Reducing pen space decreased (P < 0.05) overall ADG and gain:feed and tended (P = 0.12) to decrease overall ADFI. Betaine had no affect (P > 0.10) on overall ADG, ADFI, or gain:feed. Pigs fed betaine had decreased (P < 0.10) carcass length. Other carcass and ham measurements were not affected (P > 0.10) by betaine. Pigs with inadequate pen space had increased (P < 0.10) ultimate pH, subjective color, cooking loss (fresh and frozen chop), and shear force but decreased rectal temperature, loin muscle CIE L*, biceps femoris CIE b*, and drip loss. Pigs subjected to minimal preslaughter handling had decreased (P < 0.10) rectal temperature, plasma cortisol, loin muscle CIE b*, and fresh chop total loss (drip + cooking loss). Pigs fed betaine had increased (P < 0.01) initial pH and decreased (P < 0.10) drip loss (fresh chop). Cooking loss and total loss (frozen chop) were decreased in pigs fed betaine with adequate pen space but increased in pigs fed betaine with inadequate pen space (betaine × pen space, P < 0.01). Pigs fed betaine may have improved pork quality.

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Journal of Animal Science

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