Effects of deep-bedded finishing system on market pig performance, composition and pork quality

B. S. Patton, Iowa State University
Elisabeth J. Huff-Lonergan, Iowa State University
Mark S. Honeyman, Iowa State University
J. D. Crouse, United States Department of Agriculture
Brian Kerr, United States Department of Agriculture
Steven M. Lonergan, Iowa State University


The purpose of this study was to compare effects of finishing environment on growth performance, pork quality and lipid composition of pork. Environments compared were standard confinement (CON) and deep-bedded semi-outdoor systems. The deep-bedded method employed in the current study was the use of hoop structures. Hoops are large, tent-like shelters with cornstalks or straw for bedding. Gilts ranging in weight from 59 to 71 kg were randomly assigned to treatments of Hoop (n = 50) and CON (n = 18) environments. Gilts were fed a two-phase dietary sequence, ad libitum for 45 days. Six gilts per treatment were selected for carcass composition and quality evaluation. The experiment was replicated a total of five times. Pigs raised in the Hoop environment gained significantly less and required significantly more feed for growth than pigs raised in the CON environment. Carcasses from CON-finished pigs were significantly fatter at the 10th rib, which lowered carcass percentage fat-free lean(FFL) and they also had greater loin marbling scores compared with carcasses from Hoop-finished pigs (P < 0.05). Significant replication effects were noted on beginning weight, live weight, carcass weight, percentage FFL, backfat, lipid content and adipose firmness. Carcasses from Hoop pigs had lower proportions of palmitic acid (P < 0.05), and higher proportions of oleic and linoleic acid (P < 0.05) in the inner layer of adipose tissue. The proportion of saturated fatty acid was lower, and that of mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acid was higher in the inner layer of the adipose tissue of Hoop pigs. Variations in fatty acid composition and lipid deposition may have been caused by environmental temperature, since decreases in environmental temperature accompanied compositional variation of the adipose, leading to higher proportions of monounsaturated fatty acid and lower proportions of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid in adipose tissue, regardless of treatment. Volatile profile analysis revealed that adipose tissue of Hoop pigs had significantly higher amounts of 3-butanal and heptanal compared with CON pigs, which may be related to the amount of oleic and linoleic acids composing the adipose tissue. These data indicate finishing pigs in hoop structures allows for exposure to fluctuating temperatures, which may influence the growth of pigs, as well as fatty acid composition and firmness of pork products.