Effects of constant and cyclic heat stress on muscle metabolism and meat quality of broiler breast fillet and thigh meat.
The effects of antemortem holding temperatures on live shrink, processing yields, and breast meat quality of broiler chickens were evaluated. A total of 462 broilers was reared to 45 d of age using conventional husbandry practices, removed from feed and water, and cooped 12 h prior to slaughter. During the 12-h feed withdrawal and holding time, the birds were held at 25, 29.5, or 34 C. Birds were individually weighed at cooping, prior to slaughter, and during processing to determine live shrink and processed carcass yields. The breast meat was removed at 2 or 24 h postmortem and was used to determine hot and cold boned meat pH, R-value, sarcomere length, meat color (lightness, redness, and yellowness), cooked yield, and shear value. The birds held at 34 C showed the significantly greatest live shrink, 5.7%, compared to those held at 29.5 or 25 C with 3.9 and 3.2% shrink, respectively. Birds held at 34 C exhibited significantly lower processed carcass yields based on initial catch weight, but when calculated using postshrink weights, there were no significant differences between treatment groups. For breast meat harvested at 2 h postmortem, the birds held at 25 C had higher R-values, redness, and yellowness values and lower cooked meat yield and shear values. For breast meat harvested at 24 h postmortem, the birds held at 25 C had higher pH, R-values, and redness. These results support earlier reports that holding conditions may dramatically effect live bird shrink and apparent yields (based on calculation denominator) but have relatively little effect on subsequent breast meat quality, regardless of postmortem deboning time.