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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange


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T: work 024 7647 8623

Improving the quality of British pork and bacon

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Research partner: University of Bristol

Sponsor: AHDB Pork-funded studentship (Dario Zammerini)

Duration: 2006 – 2009 

Aims and objectives

  • To determine the effect of pig growth rate and health status on boar taint, under ideal breeding conditions and in commercial conditions
  • To find out if a short feeding period with inclusion of chicory before slaughter is sufficient to significantly reduce the level of skatole
  • To compare different heating methods (abattoir) for the sensory assessment of abnormal odours in pig meat, with the aim of comparing the effectiveness of these tests and to evaluate the contributions of androstenone and skatole to any abnormal odours generated. 


  • Producers should aim for growth rates above 0.7kg/d from weaning to slaughter to minimise production costs and optimise eating quality
  • Pigs growing fast between weaning and slaughter, at around 0.68 kg/d, had significantly more tender pork than those growing at 0.54 kg/d; the difference was more marked in pigs slaughtered at the heavier weight of 110kg but was also present at 90kg
  • The taste panel results showed that juiciness of pork was increased by faster growth and as a result the overall liking score for eating quality was higher
  • There was no evidence that slower growth and high carcase weight increases boar taint
  • The use of entire males should not be limited as there were no significant differences in meat quality when the meat from boars and females was compared
  • A chicory supplementation for two weeks before slaughter reduced skatole to extremely low levels but might not be cost effective in pig populations where levels of androstenone are high 

The effect of including chicory in the diet at difference concentrations for a period of two weeks

Level of chicory inclusion (g/kg diet)

Affect on skatole level (µg/g fat)

Affect on abnormal odours (On a scale of 1-8*)

0 (control)












* Where 1 is extremely weak and 8 is extremely strong 

Further information

Download Final thesis