Producing quality pork

Factors that influence the eating quality of pork include:

  • age and breed of pigs
  • diet and health of pigs
  • piggery management
  • handling and transport of pigs
  • quality assurance certification.

Managing these factors will help produce tender, succulent and flavoursome pork.

Peak industry bodies and government agencies support quality assurance, pig identification and livestock transport programs.

All links in the supply chain need to work together to make sure quality pork is produced consistently. For example, improving the genetics of a pig herd will have little impact on the quality of pork if transport systems cause stress to animals.

Factors affecting quality

The health of pigs has a strong influence on the taste, flavour and quality of pork.

Diet and nutrition

Diet and nutrition play an important role in producing quality pork.

Most piggeries feed pigs a mixture of:

  • grains including barley, wheat and sorghum
  • proteins including  soya bean meal, fish meal, canola
  • supplements including vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

The ratios and nature of the supplements is carefully managed to meet the dietary requirements of pigs at different stages of growth.

The presence of moulds in weather or moisture-affected grains can reduce the nutritional value of the feed, which affects quality and productivity.

Housing

Pig housing standards need to be met.

Pigs can develop health and disease issues if there is inadequate or poorly maintained:

  • ventilation
  • insulation
  • flooring
  • effluent management systems.

Hygiene and disease prevention

Pigs that are reared in well-maintained facilities and are free of disease produce quality pork.

If pigs are receiving veterinary products or treatment, they may also be temporarily unfit for consumption.

On-farm biosecurity plans and quality assurance programs promote hygienic behaviour and healthy practices, helping to protect the piggery’s health status.

Handling and transport

Pigs that are handled calmly and gently by trained staff at the piggery and during transport to processing facilities are more likely to produce high-quality pork.

The design and layout of the piggery, including pens, holding areas and the load-out area will assist in you moving pigs without causing stress.

Factors that affect the stress levels of pigs in transit include:

  • transport vehicle size and design
  • ventilation
  • travel times
  • rest periods
  • weather conditions.

Withholding periods and export slaughter intervals

Veterinary products in the feed or by injection can affect pork eating quality.

A withholding period (WHP) is the number of days before pigs can be processed for domestic consumption following treatment with a veterinary product. For some veterinary products, export markets require a longer period between last treatment and slaughter, called an export slaughter interval (ESI).