Feed restriction prior to slaughter may reduce live and carcass weight gain (Murray and Jones, 1994) and meat quality (Warriss, 1982) but can reduce carcass contamination and the amount of waste to be disposed of at the slaughter house (Eikelenbloom et al., 1991). Most literature studies are however based on a single feed restriction while group housed pigs may be slaughtered over a period of time and can therefore be subjected to several periods of feed restriction. This study was conducted to examine the effects of feed restriction prior to slaughter on the production performance and meat quality of group housed finishing pigs.
There were three experimental treatments (1) control - ad libitum access up to point of transport, feeders closed off for 12 hours (Treatment 2) and feeders closed off for 20 hours (Treatment 3) prior to transport to the slaughter house. All pigs had unrestricted access to water. Four hundred and eighty six, 35 kg crossbred pigs, housed in groups of 18, were randomly allocated to 9 replicates of the three treatments. Pigs were slaughtered when a target live weight of 102 kg was reached. Production performance was recorded on a weekly basis when the first pig in any treatment approached 95 kg live weight until all pigs were slaughtered.