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IRTA: Can the emotional state affect the pork meat quality?

A new project led by IRTA researchers, ascribed to the Department of Agriculture of the Catalan government, aims to study the emotional state on the animal welfare in pigs, both at the farm and the slaughterhouse. Taking into account physiological and behavioural animal parameters, the researchers hope to get valuable information to determine the final product quality.

The animal welfare concept includes both physical and mental health of the animal, and although researchers have already identified markers of the comfort, hunger, health or injuries suffered by the animal, measures of the animal’s emotional state in farm must still be adopted.

The main goal of the "Animal emotion and markers" (ANEMOMA) project is the study of the relationship between the pigs welfare, both in farm and slaughterhouse, and the meat quality, taking into account the behavioural and physiological biomarkers of the animal and meat.

"In previous research we found that the emotional state can modify the biochemical and cell parameters in pigs, which in turn can be used as stress markers" says the responsible for the ANEMOMA project, IRTA researcher Mr. Antonio Velarde. “The current project aims to go further and evaluate the effect of sex, genotype and handling conditions on the cognitive bias”, and identify the stress biomarkers prior to and during the slaughter (ante and peri-mortem phases, respectively) in blood, saliva, brain, intestine and meat.

Besides IRTA, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Regional Service for Agri-food Research and Development of Asturias (SERIDA) and the University of Oviedo also participate in the ANEMOMA project, being funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

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