Farm management

Effects of farm management practices and transport duration on stress response and meat quality traits of suckling goat kids
Studies aimed to assess up to what extent farming and transport previous to slaughtering might affect physiology and meat quality in young goat kids are needed, with the ultimate purpose of promoting practices that minimize stress in these animals. In this regard the effects of on-farm management and transport duration on some physiological responses and meat quality parameters in goat kids were assessed. Two farms representing ‘high’ and ‘low’ welfare-friendly management practices were selected. In total, 32 suckling kids were withdrawn from each farm, transported by road for 2 or 6 h, and then slaughtered. Blood samples were collected both on-farm and in the slaughterhouse, and biochemistry, cell counts and haematocrit were determined. After slaughtering, carcass quality parameters were measured. Longissimus dorsi muscle was dissected and pH, colour parameters, water holding capacity and shear force were measured throughout 8-day ageing period. Results indicate that, regardless its duration, transport caused significant effects on some blood parameters suggesting stress in live animals, like glucose, cortisol or creatine kinase. Despite the marked stress status in animals, this condition was not decisively reflected on L. dorsi quality parameters, but some effects were observed regarding fat cover in carcasses and colour parameters. The results suggest that postmortem changes throughout ageing were more decisive in terms of meat quality than stressful management either on-farm or during transport.