Consumer interest in free-range and organic poultry is growing. Two concurrent experiments were conducted to assess 1) the impact of alternative genotype and production system and 2) the impact of genotype and diet on meat quality of chickens for specialty markets. Specifically, a slow-growing genotype (slow) and a fast-growing genotype (fast) were raised for 91 and 63 d (females), respectively, or 84 and 56 d in the case of the second trial (males). In each trial, the slow birds were placed before the fast birds to achieve a similar final BW at processing. Each genotype was assigned to 4 pens of 20 birds each and raised in indoor floor pens in a conventional poultry research facility; each genotype was also assigned to 4 floor pens in a small facility with outdoor access. A low-nutrient diet was used, formulated for a slower rate of production. Birds were commercially processed and deboned at 4 h postmortem. In the second trial, the diets compared were a conventional diet that met NRC requirements or the low-nutrient diet, and all birds were raised indoors. There was an interaction between genotype and production system for the color (b*; P < 0.05). The meat and skin of the slow birds became more yellow when the birds had outdoor access; however, this did not occur when the fast birds had outdoor access. The breast meat of the slow birds had more protein and α-tocopherol (P < 0.05) than the fast birds and half the amount of fat (P < 0.05). In addition, the meat of the outdoor birds had more protein than the indoor birds (P < 0.05). The slow birds had poorer water-holding capacity but were more tender than the fast birds (P < 0.05). The type of diet had little impact on meat quality. These data indicate that meat quality differences exist between genotypes with different growth rates and raised in alternative production systems.
- Alternative production system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology