Development of nutritional strategies to improve production efficiency, sensory quality and food safety in organic pork production systems
The availability of protein feeds and sources of essential amino acids are the main limiting factor in organic pig production. This is due to restrictions concerning bought-in feedstuffs, and to the ban on GM-crop based feed, on synthetic amino acids, and on the use of chemically extracted soybean meal, tAs a result, organic pork production is dependent on a relatively high product price to compensate for the lower production efficiency compared to conventional production.
Two principal strategies have been chosen to address this problem:
- To develop quality oriented production systems with an emphasis on sensory quality
- To identify protein crops which can provide additional sources of suitable protein and essential amino acids to improve the production efficiency and reduce cost
Improved sensory quality
Recent studies demonstrated that diets based on organic cereals and home grown grain legumes have the potential to produce pork with a high intramuscular fat content (IMF > 2,9%) and a high meat yield without causing an overly fat pig. Also a high IMF content was assessed as having higher sensory quality by an expert panel compared to pork with a low IMF. Although intramuscular fat content is not the only factor affecting the sensory quality of pork, it is considered of high relevance due to its close correlations with palatability traits like aroma taste, tenderness and juiciness especially when IMF content is above 2 %.
However there is insufficient information (a) on the interaction between pig genotype and amino acid balance in the diet and (b) on the interaction between pig birth-weight and amino acid balance and (c) because results have not been validated under variable “on farm” production conditions.
Identification of suitable protein crops
There is already substantial information on the agronomy and composition of potential protein crops that can be grown in different EU-countries. However such studies were mainly from nationally funded research programmes and results were never reviewed at a European level. It is therefore useful to
- review the information available in different EU-countries and to identify (a) candidate protein crops suitable for growing in different European regions, (b) combinations of crops which would potentially provide feed rations with amino acid compositions suitable for improving pork quality and/or production efficiency.
- confirm results on the potentially most suitable candidate crops in laboratory analysis and animal growth trials
To address the technology requirements and deficiencies in knowledge described above we will carry out the following studies (sub-workpackages):
WP4.4.1 Development of feeding strategies to produce pork with high sensory quality studies will be used to quantify (a) the interaction between pig genotype and amino acid balance in the diet and (b) the interaction between pig birth-weight and amino acid balance. Larger studies will be used to validate results under variable conditions in commercial organic farms.
WP4.4.2 Suitability of different organically grown protein crops for optimising pig diets. This will involved a literature review, laboratory analyses and pig growth trials focused on identifying protein content, amino acid composition and energy value, anti-nutritional factors, production costs, and suitability of crops for “low input” and organic production systems.
WP4.4.3 Development of feeding strategies, which improve sensory quality and food safety of pork while improving production efficiency. This will involve integration of suitable approaches from WPs 4.4.1, 4.4.2 and 4.3
Environmental and sustainability audits and cost/benefit analyses on novel strategies developed under WP4.4 will be carried out as part of Horizontal activity 1 & 2. The studies under WP4.4 will also provide important data/deliverables for SPs 5 & 6 (see the graphics).