Are carcass and meat quality of male dual-purpose chickens competitive compared to slow-growing broilers reared under a welfare-enhanced organic system?
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In the face of intense societal debate on the animal health and welfare aspects of chicken production, the appropriation of dual-purpose chickens for the production of both meat and eggs is gaining attention in Germany. This study aimed to evaluate male birds from a local dual-purpose chicken breed (Bresse Gauloise; n = 20) raised under a welfare-enhanced organic system that includes access to pasture. Males (n = 19) and females (n = 21) of a slow-growing commercial broiler (ISA 657) bred for outdoor production served as the reference. All birds were slaughtered at an age of 84 days. The growth and slaughter performance and functional breast meat properties were analyzed. Inosine-5′-monophosphate was determined by mass spectrometry. Additionally, a sensory test was carried out. Dual-purpose chickens achieved weight gains (31 g/day) comparable to the slow-growing broiler (26 to 34 g/day), but the latter achieved superior dressing and breast meat percentages. The exclusive use of male birds for fattening in dual-purpose production had the advantage of a reduced variation in carcass characteristics because the sexual dimorphism was circumvented. Both genetics delivered low-fat breast fillets free of obvious meat defects and hence an acceptable product. The ability of the taste panel to discriminate cooked breast meat of dual-purpose chickens from that of slow-growing broilers encourages further investigations. In conclusion, the dual-purpose chicken breed examined in the present work could be suitable for the production of “ready-to-grill/cook” carcasses under a welfare-enhanced organic system, assuming that synergies between dual-purpose production and (animal welfare) label production can be exploited.
KeywordsAnimal welfare Dual-purpose chickens Carcass characteristics Meat quality
This study was funded by the Ministry for Rural Areas and Consumer Protection of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. The authors would like to particularly thank Prof. Dr. M. Grashorn (Livestock Population Genomics, Institute of Animal Science, University of Hohenheim) and Dr. J. Pfannstiel (Core Facility Hohenheim, University of Hohenheim) for their valuable advice. Mr. H. Stegmann, Mr. J. Abegg, and Mrs. H. Hartmann are gratefully acknowledged for rearing and slaughtering the birds; Mrs. A. Zipp, Ms. F. Khajehei, Ms. S. Sahamishirazi, and Mrs. G. Tietgens for their technical assistance; and Ms. K. Cresswell Riol for proofreading.
Compliance with ethical standards
The experiment was approved by the Animal Welfare Commissioner of the University of Hohenheim.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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