The main objective of rearing beef cows, pigs, or meat goats and sheep is to produce meat. The question now becomes what is the quality of meat that your animal produces? Interest in the quality of meat has risen over years with consumers wanting more information on the meat that they buy for consumption. The information which is also needed by the producer to market their products, and produce the type of meat quality that is preferred by the consumer.
Meat quality is a term used to describe different attributes of meat. The attributes are; eating quality, convenience, stability, wholesomeness and nutritive value.
The quality of meat starts from the farm to the table of the consumer. What you feed, the exercises that the animals have, exposure to diseases and vaccinations affect the quality at farm level. From the farm gate to the convenience of the consumer there is transportation, preservation, presentation in terms of packaging that affect the quality of the meat.
The following are a list of factors that affect the quality of the meat.
What you feed your livestock to make them grow and for them to be able to produce the quality protein that is the main nutrient from meat. The
Lairage time and conditions
Animals are held temporarily in the lairage prior to slaughter. It serves as a collection point for different animals just before slaughter. The lairage is also to provide animals with some amount of recovery from stress during transport.
Animal movement should be observed for any possible injury or infection. They should also be given adequate amount of suitable feed and water if they will be kept in the lairage longer than expected.
Although lairageing is to enable animals to rest and to recover from transportation stress, it can be a major source of meat quality problems. Animals may suffer from different degree of bruising and injury as a result of fighting or overcrowding. Lairage can also act as reservoirs of infection by pathogenic bacteria.
Careless and improper handling of animals in the lairage such as the use of electrical goads, abstracting the movement of animals through race, beating and firm grip of the coat with the hand, exposure of animals to microbial contaminations will adversely have effect on the carcass and meat quality. Conditions in the lairage therefore need to be conducive to prevent infections and the animals from being stressed further after vigorous transportation but to recover from transportation stress.
Transportation begins with loading and ends with unloading. Both need to be done in a gentle manner and under a quieter environmental condition. Careful loading and unloading conditions should be considered.
During transportation, animals are exposed to environmental stress such as heat, cold, humidity, noise and overcrowding. Over speeding, sudden stops, rapid acceleration and long journey times without appropriate rest should be avoided as these will increase meat quality defects. Strenuous efforts have to be put in place to ensure the safety of animals in transportation to reduce stress to its minimum.