Feed restrictions prior to slaughter, April 1999

Date published: 31 December 2000

Feed restriction on the farm prior to slaughter is a relatively easy way to reduce contamination of carcasses from bacteria of punctured stomachs at the abattoir. In addition it may save small amount of feed, reduce mortality in transport, improve bleeding out and reduce the amount of waste to be disposed of at the abattoir.


However, prolonged feed restriction may also result in loss of carcass weight and poorer meat quality e.g. DFD. Furthermore, not all pigs in a pen are ready for slaughter together and the effect of repeated feed restriction is unknown. This experiment aimed to determine the effects of several feed restriction periods prior to slaughter on performance, meat quality and feeding behaviour of pigs. 540 crossbred pigs were allocated to 3 treatments (no feed restriction, 12 hr feed restriction, 20 hr feed restriction prior to slaughter). Performance, behaviour and meat quality of the pigs were monitored during pre, during and post feed restriction.

Feed restriction for 12 hours prior to slaughter did not adversely affect performance, carcass weight, meat quality or welfare in the present study. This is beneficial to farmers by saving approximately 1.5 kg feed/pig, processors by reducing waste and consumers by improving food safety. Careful management of the feeder could save feed costs of approximately 25 p/pig. Fasting for 20 hours reduced carcass weight by 1 kg which was not statistically significant but could result in losses of 30-70 p/pig.

The negative effects on meat quality of repeated feed restrictions resulted from slower growth rates rather than feed restriction per se. Improving performance and meat quality of slow growing pigs is an area which warrants further research.