Alternative and outdoor housing systems for pigs: Effects on growth, meat quality, and muscle characteristics



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Texas Tech University


The popularity of alternative and outdoor swine housing systems has increased in recent years. Research examining outdoor and alternative housing systems for finisher pigs has been limited. The objectives of this dissertation were to examine the effects of outdoor and alternative pig housing systems on growth, composition, and muscle characteristics. Housing systems that were evaluated included indoor slatted-floor buildings, indoor deep-bedded buildings, outdoor housing on dirt, and outdoor housing on alfalfa pasture. Birth and finishing conditions were evaluated over seasons using 96 pigs. At weaning, indoor-bom and outdoor-bom pigs were randomly allotted to indoor or outdoor pens for growing/finishing. Pigs were also finished on deep-bedding or concrete slats to evaluate performance and meat quality. An additional experiment examined the effects of indoor space allowances on pig performance, behavior and meat quality. Muscle fiber type characteristics (percentage of type I, IIA, and IIB fibers) were examined in two experiments to determine the effects of space allowance and exercise levels on muscle quality. Carcass measurements were recorded and boneless loins were collected from the left side of each carcass in the experiments. Loins were evaluated for color, drip loss, proximate analysis, sensory attributes, and shear force.