Danish research project looks at whether protein impacts pig meat quality
A Danish research project, SuperGrass Pork, spearheaded by SEGES, has studied whether different levels of biorefined grass protein in feed mixes impact a pig’s meat quality and growth.
Feed optimisation and a reduced climate footprint are some of the key considerations in Danish food production.
The project involves a trial comprising 48 pigs, divided into four groups. Each group is fed four different levels of grass protein – 0%, 5%, 10% and 15% – extracted from locally grown clover fields in Denmark.
The concept behind the project is to analyse the potential for finding more sustainable alternatives to imported soya which accounts for a large proportion of pig feed.
Erik Fog, project leader of SuperGrass Pork, said: “The SuperGrassPork project studies the technique, quality and economics of grass protein.
“We can see from the results that the pigs thrive well on grass protein and clearly enjoy it. They show an eagerness to consume the feed even when a relatively large portion of grass protein has been added. Even the pigs with the highest test rate of 15% grass protein mix are doing really well.”
A panel then tested the meat for eating quality, taking part in a blind tasting where they compared the appearance, smell, taste and consistency of the meat from pigs with and without grass protein in their feed.
Overall, the panel decided that there were only minor differences in the meat from the two groups of differently fed pigs. Of the many characteristics that were tested, such as sourness, sweetness and bitterness, cooking aroma, juiciness and tenderness, only a certain difference was found in the meat’s fibre structure, where meat from the pigs fed with a large amount of grass protein has a stronger fibre structure. The meat was also darker and less pink.