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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Stress and meat quality. Role of the animal’s genetic background and prior history

INRA Prod. Anim., 15(2), 125-133.

E.M.C. TERLOUW

INRA, Station de Recherches sur la Viande, Theix, 63122 St-Genès-Champanelle

Abstract 

Stress reactions during the slaughtering procedureaffect muscular metabolism before and after slaughterand consequently, meat quality. The phenomenon isprincipally related to a reduction in muscle glycogenstores and an increase in ATPase activity. The way animalsreact behaviourally, physiologically and metabolicallyto stress, depends on the animal's genetic backgroundand prior history. For example, certain breedsare more reactive to human presence or to an unfamiliarenvironment. The effect of physiological changeson metabolism depends amongst others on the numberof functional receptors on or in muscle cells, whichappear to vary according to genetic background.Concerning history, the experience of a defeat in anagonistic encounter, of being housed in isolation orattached, may increase behavioural and physiologicalreactivity to an unfamiliar object or to the distributionof the daily meal. It is likely that such an increase reinforcesthe effects of slaughter stress on meat quality.The ease of handling, loading and unloading dependson the degree of the animal's familiarity with the situation.For veal calves, the caretaker's attitude towardshis animals has some influence on the calves' reactionstowards slaughter procedures and on meat quality. Insummary, we have some knowledge of the effects ofgenetic background, rearing method and stress reactivitytowards slaughter procedures on meat quality. It isnecessary to extend this knowledge and to elucidateunderlying mechanisms.

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