Effects of Environment, Genotype, Sex, and Antibiotic Treatment on Pig Growth, Carcass Characteristics, and Pork Quality

Purdue University 1997 Swine Research Report. The consumption of pork products can be increased either through decreased prices via improvements in efficiency of production or through improvements in pork quality which target consumer preferences. Commercial pork producers are considering cost-effective genetic and health management changes to improve both the rate and efficiency of lean growth. Substantial genetic variation for lean growth rate, lean efficiency, and carcass lean percent exists between different genetic populations of pigs. When evaluated under near ideal conditions, and optimal diets, 40% differences in lean growth rate and efficiency exist between genotypes (Schinckel et al., 1996). There is also substantial variation in pork quality traits between genotypes. In general, genotypes selected for efficient lean growth via selection for increased lean growth and decreased fat accretion, have lower feed intakes, lower intramuscular fat levels, and less desirable eating quality. Substantial differences in performance also exist between different environments and health management strategies. In a recent trial, pigs with minimal diseases via segregated early weaning (SEW), which were fed a series of non-limiting diets, achieved 230 lb. at 136 days of age and 264 lb. at 151 days of age. Pigs raised on the original commercial farm, conventionally weaned with all-in, allout production, required 184 days to attain 230 lb. live weight. These types of observations are prompting producers to make health management changes.