Interactive Effects of Nutrition, Environment, and Processing on Fresh Pork Quality, Intestinal Biomarkers of Heat Stress in Swine, and Career Success Factors for Agricultural Students

2019-10-16T17:43:44Z (GMT) by Julie A. Feldpausch
Heat stress (HS) induced changes in energy metabolism, proteolysis, lipogenesis, and oxidative balance have meat quality ramifications for livestock. However, several knowledge gaps exist in understanding heat stressed finishing pig physiology and pork quality characteristics and how dietary zinc may ameliorate undesirable outcomes. Research was completed to determine zinc supplementation effects on carcass composition, meat quality, and oxidative stability of fresh and processed pork from pigs subjected to a chronic, cyclic heat stress using a 2×2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments with main effects of environment (HS vs. thermoneutral; TN), added zinc level (50 vs. 130 mg kg-1 available zinc), and zinc source (inorganic vs. organic). Commercial crossbred mixed-sex pigs (initially 72.0 kg) were group-housed under either TN (18.9-16.7°C) or cycling HS conditions with chronic diurnal heat (30-29°C/26-27°C for 12h:12h) on days 24-71 with acute heat waves (32-33°C/29-30°C for 12h:12h) on days 21-24, 42-45, and 63-65. One representative pig (n=80) per pen was slaughtered on day 64. The HS pigs were lighter bodyweight (P=0.039), yielded lighter carcasses (P=0.011), less last rib backfat (P=0.032), tended to have smaller loin eye area (P=0.062) but similar percent lean in belly center slices (P>0.10). Compared to TN, HS carcasses had higher 24-h pH (P=0.001) and decreased drip loss (P=0.034). Shifts in individual fatty acid profile of sausage product derived from HS carcasses were observed but were of insufficient magnitude to affect iodine value. Initially, sausage from HS carcasses tended (day 0, P=0.071) to have less thiobarbituric acid reactive substances than TN but over a 10-day simulated retail display, no treatment induced lipid oxidation differences (P>0.05) were observed in either sausage or displayed loin chops. Consistent treatment differences in CIE L*a*b* of products throughout the 10-day display were not observed. The relationships between physiological changes in pigs receiving supplemental zinc and their body and ambient temperatures were also investigated. A representative gilt (n=96) was selected for thermal monitoring from each pen of the 2×2×2 treatments plus 4 additional treatments representing 2 intermediate levels of Zn in both environments. Core body temperatures (Tcore) during the day 42-45 acute heat wave were continuously recorded via indwelling vaginal thermometers and infrared thermal imaging was used to measure skin temperatures at 12-hour intervals. From a 64-gilt subset of the 2×2×2 treatments, jejunum and ileum samples were collected on day 64 for analysis of villus height, crypt depth, and jejunal gene expression of heat shock proteins (27, 70, 90), occludin, and mucin (MUC2). The HS model induced thermoregulatory changes and increases in Tcore (P<0.05). Day 42-45 ambient temperature was negatively correlated with expression of HSP-27 (r=-0.42, P=0.047), HSP-90 (r=-0.49, P=0.014), and occludin (r=-0.69, P<0.001) in HS pigs. For the organic Zn supplemented pigs, ambient temperature was positively correlated with expression of HSP-27 (r=0.42, P=0.034) and MUC2 (r=0.45, P=0.017) and negatively correlated with villus height in jejunum (r=-0.42, P=0.027) and ileum (r=-0.38, P=0.048). Thermal Circulation Index (measure of heat dissipation) of HS pigs was negatively correlated with their ileum villus height (r=-0.51, P=0.015) and positively correlated with HSP-70 expression (r=0.46, P=0.041). The Tcore lacked correlation with most variables. This research demonstrates cyclic HS affects carcass composition and quality but does not appear to reduce display shelf-life of pork as indicated by lack of differences in lipid oxidation and color stability. In this HS model, zinc level or source imparted negligible benefits and thermal correlations with gut integrity characteristics existed for organic zinc supplemented and HS pigs. The degree of heat dissipation by heat stressed pigs appeared to be associated with classic HS damage and intestinal responses which may be useful indicators of HS in the grow-finish pig. Another agricultural challenge is maintaining higher education programming which establishes a successful career trajectory for agricultural students amid generational shifts in attitudes and background experiences. Undergraduates studying Animal Science and/or Agricultural Economics were surveyed to understand their perception of how collegiate curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences (coursework, club participation, relevant work experience, international experience, advising/mentoring, college life, and professional networking) contribute to their anticipated career success. A best-worst scaling experiment was used to force respondents (n=487) to make unbiased tradeoffs between the collegiate experience attributes. Responses were then related back to additional demographical and experience/perception characteristics of respondents. Students indicated relevant work experience was overwhelmingly the most critical of the 7 factors (57% preference share), followed by professional networking (19%), and coursework (14%). Students solely in a pre-veterinary Animal Science curriculum represented a distinct category of students regarding their beliefs and experiences. Further research is needed to investigate possible disconnects between student perceptions and reality in higher education and agricultural careers.