The effect of feed withdrawal during lairage on meat quality characteristics in ostriches
Commercially reared ostriches (n = 84) were randomly allocated to one of two groups. The first group (stressed: n = 38) was deprived of food for a period of 2.5 days prior to slaughter, to simulate the stress experienced by slaughter ostriches held in holding pens (lairage) at a commercial ostrich abattoir over a weekend. The second group (control: n = 46) was fed normally until 24 h prior to slaughter. Initial live weight as well as hot and cold drumstick weight were independent (P > 0.05) of treatment. Stressed birds lost on average (±SE) approximately three times more weight than control birds over the experimental period (-3.2 ± 0.6 vs. -1.0 ± 0.5 kg, respectively). Full stomach and alimentary tract weights did not differ between treatments although there was a tendency for that derived from stressed birds to have lower stomach contents. The intra-muscular (Muscularis iliofibularis) pHf of stressed birds was 0.22 units higher (P < 0.01) than that of contemporaries in the control group 1 h post-slaughter (6.03 ± 0.06 vs. 5.81 ± 0.05, respectively). After 26.5 h in a refrigerated room, this difference still remained at 0.25 units (6.46 ± 0.07 vs. 6.21 ± 0.07, respectively; P < 0.05). Post-slaughter changes in intra-muscular pH followed approximately the same trend in stressed and control birds. Intra-muscular temperature was largely independent of treatment, although there was a suggestion of a slightly higher (P = 0.18) temperature in stressed birds immediately post-slaughter. Cooking loss, drip loss and shearing values were not affected (P > 0.05) by the withholding of food for 2.5 days. It can thus be concluded that withholding feed from ostriches on lairage over a period of 2.5 days does not have any negative influence on the meat yield or physical quality traits thereof. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.