Pork quality can vary from one part of a hog carcass to another, according to new research from meat scientists at the University of Illinois.
A team that included university, United States Department of Agriculture and Smithfield Foods Ltd. scientists compared loin and belly quality from about 8,000 hogs and found no relationship between the two.
"Just because a loin has desirable color and is tender doesn't mean the same animal is going to produce a good belly for bacon or a great ham for a special dinner. It didn't. Hypothesis one: scratched," Dustin Boler, assistant professor in the animal sciences department at the University of Illinois, said in a press release.
The researchers also compared barrows and gilts to see if one produces a more consistent product.
Traits associated with fatness, such as marbling, were more variable in barrows than in gilts.
However, the scientists found that the sexes varied by roughly the same degree in terms of muscling and lean quality.
Based on that, they say barrows and gilts probably do not need to be managed differently unless producers are targeting a very specific branded product.
The study also found that variability mostly was due to factors within individual pigs and not rooted in any particular management practice.
Findings from the research were published in five articles in the Journal of Animal Science.