Do rearing system and free-range stocking density affect meat quality of chickens fed feed mixture with rapeseed oil?
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Recently, consumers have paid an attention to animal-friendly meat. The aim of the study was to evaluate the meat quality of breast muscles in indoor and free-range chickens with respect to the stocking density of outdoor chickens (8.3 or 4.15 birds per m2) fed feed with rapeseed oil. The free-range chickens reached 96 and 97% of the final live weight of the indoor chickens and their feed : gain ratio was by 7 and 9% higher. The pasture intake had a small effect on the breast meat quality and was presumably associated with rapeseed oil in the basal diet which strongly influenced meat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid content and reduced the effect of pasture. The free-range system and lower stocking density led to an increase in muscle fibre cross-sectional area and diameter and a higher meat shear force (P = 0.003). Concerning the meat sensory properties, the total acceptability of the meat of free-range chickens with a lower stocking density was found to be lower compared with the other groups.esults indicate a minor effect of the rearing system and free-range stocking density on chicken meat quality, and also that meat quality in experiments with free-range housing can be affected by a fat source in basal diet.
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