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Improved texture of breast meat after a short finishing feeding period of broilers in an organic free-range system (D. 5.2)

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  • Food Security
  • Food Quality And Human Health
  • Poultry
  • Biology
  • Philosophy


In order to develop an organic broiler product with high ethical value, high meat quality and based on locally produced feed, we tested if a long period without high quality protein feed followed by a finishing period with a high quality protein ration would affect the meat quality. Two genotypes were included in the experiment (The Hubbard breed ‘JA757’ and the Sasso breed ‘T851’), and only female broilers were included. The chickens were raised in groups in a free range system with more than 10 square meters per chicken covered with grass and herbs. The chickens were offered free access to either an optimized organic concentrate ration (HP) or an organic ration based on locally produced ingredients (peas, rapeseed, lupine, wheat and oat) (LP). The broilers were slaughtered at 90 days (HP) or 118 days (LP). At 90 days the LP broilers were allocated to the high quality protein ration (HP) for either four weeks (LP4) or two weeks (LP2) before slaughter. At slaughter the JA757 HP broilers were the heaviest (2827 g), and the JA757 LP broilers were not able to catch up after either 2 or 4 weeks finishing feeding with the HP ration (2248 g and 2292 g, respectively). This was different for the T851 genotype where there was no difference in slaughter weight between the T851 HP and LP2 and LP4 (average 1592 g). A sensory panel evaluated the sensory quality of the breast meat and found less firmness and fibrousness, lower chewing time and more tenderness in both genotypes offered high quality protein feed in the finishing feeding for 2 weeks in comparison with the 4 weeks finishing feeding, with the HP in between. This pattern is reflected in the daily gains the last two weeks before slaughter and suggests a positive linkage between daily gain before slaughter and tenderness post mortem.

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