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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367918

Research Project: Strategies to Optimize Meat Quality and Composition of Red Meat Animals

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Title: Characterizing ham and loin quality as hot carcass weight increases to an average of 119 kilograms

item PRICE, HANNAH - University Of Illinois
item LERNER, ANNIE - Kansas State University
item RICE, EMILY - Kansas State University
item LOWELL, JESSICA - University Of Illinois
item HARSH, BAILEY - University Of Illinois
item BARKLEY, KAYLA - University Of Illinois
item HONEGGER, LAUREN - University Of Illinois
item RICHARDSON, ELAINE - University Of Illinois
item WOODWORTH, JASON - Kansas State University
item TOKACH, MIKE - Kansas State University
item DRITZ, STEVE - Kansas State University
item GOODBAND, ROBERT - Kansas State University
item DEROUCHEY, JOEL - Kansas State University
item OQUINN, TRAVIS - Kansas State University
item ALLERSON, MATT - Holden Farms
item FIELDS, BRANDON - Pig Improvement Company
item King, David - Andy
item Wheeler, Tommy
item Shackelford, Steven
item DILGER, ANNA - University Of Illinois
item BOLER, DUSTIN - University Of Illinois

Submitted to: Meat and Muscle Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/23/2019
Publication Date: 9/5/2019
Publication URL:
Citation: Price, H.E., Lerner, A.B., Rice, E.A., Lowell, J.E., Harsh, B.N., Barkley, K.E., Honegger, L.T., Richardson, E., Woodworth, J.C., Tokach, M.D., Dritz, S.S., Goodband, R.D., DeRouchey, J.M., O'Quinn, T.G., Allerson, M.W., Fields, B., King, D.A., Wheeler, T.L., Shackelford, S.D., Dilger, A.C., Boler, D.D. 2019. Characterizing ham and loin quality as hot carcass weight increases to an average of 119 kilograms. Meat and Muscle Biology. 3(1):330-343.

Interpretive Summary: During the last 20 years, pork carcass weights have increased by approximately 17%, and this trend is expected to continue over the next 30 years. Though this trend indicates increased meat production and efficiency of scale, questions exist regarding the potential for negative consequences of increasing carcass weights on pork quality. A study was conducted to study the influence of increased carcass weights on pork quality. Increased carcass weight increased ham and loin weights and decreased carcass leanness. Tenderness was improved by increased carcass weights, and other pork quality attributes were not affected by increased carcass weight. Thus, increasing pork carcass weights did not negatively affect pork quality.

Technical Abstract: The objective was to characterize ham and loin quality of carcasses ranging from 78 to 145 kg (average ~119 kg). Hot carcass weight (HCW), back fat depth, and loin depth was measured on 666 carcasses. Loin pH, instrumental and visual color and iodine value of clear plate fat (all 3 layers) was measured on approximately 90% of the population. Quality measurements of the ham, 14 d aged loin and chop, and loin chop shear force (SSF) were evaluated on approximately 30% of the population. Myosin heavy chain fiber type determination was completed on 49 carcasses. Slopes of regression lines and coefficients of determination between HCW and quality traits were calculated using the REG procedure in SAS and considered significantly different from 0 at P = 0.05. As HCW increased, loin depth (b1 = 0.2496, P < 0.0001), back fat depth (b1 = 0.1374, P < 0.0001), loin weight (b1 = 0.0345, P < 0.0001), and ham weight (b1 = 0.1044, P < 0.0001) increased. Estimated lean (b1 = –0.0751, P < 0.0001) and iodine value (b1 = –0.0922, P < 0.0001) decreased as HCW increased, where HCW accounted for 24% (R2 = 0.24) of the variation in estimated lean and 7% (R2 = 0.07) of the variation in iodine value. However, HCW did not explain variation in ham quality traits (P > 0.15) and did not explain more than 1% (R2 = 0.01) of the variation in 1 d loin color or pH. Loins from heavier carcasses were more tender (decreased SSF; b1 = –0.0674, P < 0.0001), although HCW only explained 9% of the variation in SSF. Hot carcass weight did not alter (P > 0.22) muscle fiber type percentage or area. These results suggest that increasing HCW to an average of 119 kg did not compromise pork quality.