Meta-analysis of the effects of ractopamine hydrochloride on carcass cutability and primal yields of finishing pigs

B. M. Bohrer, J. M. Kyle, D. D. Boler, P. J. Rincker, M. J. Ritter, S. N. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The objective was to summarize previous literature, using a meta-analysis approach, on the effects of ractopamine hydrochloride (RAC) when fed at doses of 5 to 10 mg/kg for up to 35 d before harvest on carcass cutability and belly quality of finishing pigs. The meta-analysis provided an opportunity to determine the consensus of previously published literature. Ten studies were evaluated to determine cutting yields and 8 studies were used to determine belly quality in this review. Pooled dietary RAC concentrations (5 mg/kg, 7.4 mg/kg, 10 mg/kg, and step-up feeding programs) and pooled feeding durations (up to 35 d before harvest) were compared with pigs not fed RAC (controls) and were analyzed as a meta-analysis using the mixed procedure of SAS. Ractopamine inclusion was the fixed effect in the model and the individual study was considered a random variable. The only difference between RAC and control pigs for whole primals as a percentage of side weight was the whole ham (P < 0.01). No other differences were detected for whole primals as a percentage of side weight. Yet, differences were detected in the standardized trimmed primal yields. A difference (P < 0.05) in percentages of the side weight was detected for the Boston butt, trimmed loin, and trimmed ham. This translated into RAC pigs having a carcass cutting yield (74.70% vs. 73.69%, respectively; P = 0.02; SED = 0.33) advantage of 1.01% units and a bone in lean cutting yield (61.43% vs. 60.33%, respectively; P = 0.03; SED = 0.40) advantage of 1.10% units when compared with control pigs. The advantage in bone-in cutability was a result of increased boneless sub primal yields in each of the lean cuts (shoulder, loin, and ham). When further evaluated, RAC pigs had a boneless shoulder (Boston butt + picnic) yield advantage of 0.32% units (P < 0.01; SED = 0.11), a 0.43% unit (P = 0.01; SED = 0.13) yield advantage in the boneless loin (Canadian back + tenderloin + sirloin), and a 0.51% unit (P < 0.001; SED = 0.11) advantage in the boneless ham (inside + outside + knuckle). A boneless yield was calculated using a summation of the percentage of side weight from the boneless shoulder, boneless loin, and boneless ham, which resulted in a 1.08% unit (36.28% vs. 35.20%, respectively; P = 0.002; SED = 0.25) advantage of RAC pigs when compared with control pigs. There were no subprimal yield differences (P = 0.93) in the trimmed belly between RAC pigs (12.18%) and control pigs (12.18%). However, RAC pigs (15.27 cm; 73.42) had narrower flop distances (P = 0.02; SED = 0.62) and greater iodine values (P = 0.01; SED = 0.33), respectively, when compared with control pigs (17.08 cm; 71.48).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1023
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cutability
  • Meta-analysis
  • Paylean
  • Pig
  • Ractopamine hydrochloride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Meta-analysis of the effects of ractopamine hydrochloride on carcass cutability and primal yields of finishing pigs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this