Meat quality, skin damage and reproductive performance of ostriches exposed to extensive human presence and interactions at an early age
CITATION: Muvhali, P. T., et al. 2010. Meat quality, skin damage and reproductive performance of ostriches exposed to extensive human presence and interactions at an early age. Tropical Animal Health and Production, doi:10.1007/s11250-020-02377-5.
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The effect human presence and interactions performed after hatch to 3 months of age has on ostrich meat quality, skin damage and reproductive performance at a later age was investigated in 416-day-old ostrich chicks. The chicks were allocated to one of the three treatments, which varied with regard to exposure to human presence and care for 3 months post-hatch: HP1—extensive human presence with physical contact (touch, stroking), gentle human voice and visual contact; HP2—extensive human presence with gentle human voice and visual contact without physical contact; S—standard control treatment, where human presence and visual contact were limited to routine management, feed and water supply only. Carcass attributes (carcass weight, dressing percentage and drumstick weight), meat quality traits (pH, colour and tenderness) and skin traits (skin size, skin grading and number of lesions) were evaluated on twenty-four 1-year-old South African Black (SAB) ostriches. Reproductive performance (egg production, average egg weight, number of clutches, clutch size, chick production, average chick weight, fertility and hatchability percentage) were recorded for the first three breeding seasons of 23 SAB pair-bred females from this study. No differences in carcass attributes, meat quality, skin traits and reproductive performance were found between treatments (P > 0.05). It was evident that exposure of day-old ostriches to extensive human presence and interaction as chicks did not influence carcass attributes, meat quality or skin traits at slaughter age, but more importantly, it did not compromise their reproductive performance.