Lairage time (short — 8min to 2.7h, n=28 vs. long — 14 to 21.5h, n=72) and pig handling (gentle — no use of stick or electric prod, pig not slipping, falling, nor emitting high-pitched vocalizations vs. rough — where any of these occurred) effects on pig stress and meat quality were measured. Blood lactate and cortisol, plus post-mortem pH (pH 60min ; pH 24h ), temperature (T 60min ), drip loss, sensory and instrumental color and meat quality for the longissimus dorsi, pars lumbalis derived meat were determined. Carcass rigor mortis and skin damages were measured. Lairage time significantly affected blood lactate, carcass rigor mortis, skin damages, drip loss, color and meat quality. Handling procedure influenced blood lactate, pH 60min and T 60min . Long lairage was more stressful, and was detrimental to carcass quality, but caused better meat quality compared to short lairage. Rough handling was related to higher lactate and lower meat quality.
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