Genetic parameters for meat quality traits and their relationships with body weight and breast development were estimated for a total of 420 male turkeys using REML. The birds were slaughtered in a commercial plant and the traits measured included pH at 20 min (pH20) and 24 h post-mortem (pHu) and colour of the breast and thigh meat. The heritabilities of the rate and the extent of the pH fall in the breast muscle were estimated at h2 = 0.21 ± 0.04 and h2 = 0.16 ± 0.04, respectively. Heritabilities ranging from 0.10 to 0.32 were obtained for the colour indicators in the breast muscle. A marked negative genetic correlation (rg = -0.80 ± 0.10) was found between pH20 and lightness (L*) of breast meat, both traits corresponding to PSE indicators. The pH20 in the thigh muscle had a moderate heritability (h2 = 0.20 ± 0.07) and was partially genetically related to pH20 in the breast muscle (rg = 0.45 ± 0.17). Body weight and breast yield were positively correlated with both initial and ultimate pH and negatively with the lightness of breast meat.
Keywords:turkey; meat quality; pH; colour; genetic parameters
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