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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality Safety and Assessment Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339086

Research Project: Assessment and Improvement of Poultry Meat, Egg, and Feed Quality

Location: Quality Safety and Assessment Research

Title: Woody breast condition in broiler breast meat

Author
item Bowker, Brian
item Zhuang, Hong

Submitted to: Midwest Poultry Federation Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2017
Publication Date: 3/4/2017
Citation: Bowker, B.C., Zhuang, H. 2017. Woody breast condition in broiler breast meat. Midwest Poultry Federation Proceedings. midwestpoultry.com/wp-content/uploads/Bowker-Brian.pdf.

Interpretive Summary: The poultry industry has observed an increasing occurrence of growth-related breast myopathies, such as the woody breast (WB) condition. Breast fillets with the WB condition exhibit abnormal hardness and rigidity upon palpation. The altered muscle composition of broiler breast fillets exhibiting the WB myopathy results in poor meat quality attributes in fresh products and reduced functionality properties for further processed products. Although many factors associated with the occurrence of the WB condition have been reported, the specific etiology of this breast myopathy is unknown.

Technical Abstract: This paper reviews what is currently known about the effects of the woody breast (WB) myopathy on the muscle tissue, meat quality, and its associated factors and potential causes. To meet the high demands for boneless breast meat, the broiler industry has effectively utilized genetic selection and improvements in nutrition to achieve substantial gains in average bird size, growth rate, feed efficiency, and carcass yield. With these increases in broiler growth rate and breast meat yield there has also been an increase in the incidence of breast myopathies, such as the WB condition in the Pectoralis major muscle. Breast fillets with the WB condition exhibit abnormal hardness and rigidity upon palpation and a ridge-like bulge on the tail end of the fillet. Fillets with the WB condition show evidence of increased muscle fiber degeneration and regeneration, necrosis, fiber size variability, lipid infiltration, increased fibrosis, and inflammatory cell invasion. The compositional changes in WB fillets have an overall negative effect on meat quality attributes. Instrumental measurements of various texture attributes in both the raw and cooked meat are generally consistent with the tactile hardness and rigidity observed in raw WB fillets. The WB condition is known to impair water-holding capacity in the breast meat. Although many factors associated with the occurrence of the WB condition have been reported, the specific etiology of this breast myopathy is unknown. To date much of the research on this condition has focused on characterizing the changes that occur at the muscle tissue level and their implications on meat quality, composition, and processing functionality. However, in the long-term, fundamental research to understand the underlying causes of the WB myopathy and the development of biomarkers for the condition will likely be the key to developing genetic, nutritional, and management strategies for reducing the incidence of WB.