Big-bird programs: Effect of strain, sex, and debone time on meat quality of broilers

V. B. Brewer, V. A. Kuttappan, J. L. Emmert, J. F.C. Meullenet, C. M. Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The industry trend toward early deboning of chickens has led to the need to explore the effect on meat quality, including the effects of strain and sex. An experiment was conducted using broilers of 4 different high-yielding commercial strains chosen because of their common use in big-bird production. Of each strain, 360 birds were commercially processed at 59, 61, and 63 d of age in 2 replicates per day. Breast fillets were harvested at 2, 4, and 6 h postmortem (PM). Muscle pH and instrumental color (L*, a*, and b*) were measured at the time of deboning and at 24 h PM. Fillets were cooked to 76°C and cook loss was calculated, followed by Meullenet-Owens razor shear (MORS) analysis. Muscle pH significantly decreased over time as aging before deboning increased. Furthermore, L* values significantly increased as aging time increased, with the fillets deboned at 6 h PM having the highest L* value, followed by 4 h, and then 2 h PM. After 24 h, the fillets deboned at 6 h still had the highest L* compared with those deboned at 2 or 4 h PM. Fillets from strain B had the highest L* values. Fillets deboned at 2 h PM had significantly higher cook losses and MORS energy (indicating tougher fillets) than fillets deboned at 4 or 6 h PM, but there was no difference in cook loss due to strain at any deboning time. Fillets deboned at 4 h PM also had higher MORS energy than fillets deboned at 6 h PM, and differences in MORS energy among the strains were observed at 4 h PM. There was no difference in instrumental color values or cook loss due to sex. However, fillets of males had significantly greater MORS energy (tougher fillets) when deboned at 2, 4, and 6 h PM than those of females. Results of this study suggest that deboning time, sex, and strain can affect meat quality in big-bird market programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalPoultry science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Color
  • Deboning
  • Shear
  • Strain
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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