The Italian heavy pig production (150-170 kg BW) provides fresh thighs for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) ham production. Traditionally, corn is the cereal grain most used in heavy pig diets because of its high starch content. Nevertheless, there is an interest for the use of alternative ingredients because of the high levels of linoleic acid and carotenoid pigments present in the fat component of corn, which may yield yellow-coloured ham from thighs with soft subcutaneous fats prone to oxidative modifications. Wheat containing food by-products such as dry pasta by-products are often available to pig producers for diet formulation. Pasta is a food rich in starch (68.1%), low in fats (1.4%), and with an average protein content of 10.9%, and could represent an alternative ingredient to corn in diet formulation for heavy pigs for the production of Italian PDO ham products. The effect of pasta inclusion in finishing pig diets was evaluated on growth performance, carcass characteristics, and ham quality. Pigs (144) were assigned to 4 diets with different pasta levels: 0 (control, corn-based diet), 30, 60, or 80%.
Pigs fed pasta had greater feed intakes than controls. Pasta increased carcass weight and dressing percentage reaching the highest values at 30% inclusion level, and reduced the Longissimus thoracis et lumborum thickness The inclusion of pasta affected the fatty acid composition of subcutaneous and intramuscular fat of the hams. In particular, the diets with pasta increased the SFA level in the subcutaneous fat and decreased the PUFA content, mainly linoleic acid, improving the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, both in the subcutaneous and intramuscular fat.
In conclusion, dry pasta by-products, as a valid alternative starch source, could be considered in the diet formulation for finishing heavy pigs.
Prandini, A., Sigolo, S., Moschini, M., Giuberti, G., & Morlacchini, M. (2016). Effect of the inclusion of dry pasta by-products at different levels in the diet of typical Italian finishing heavy pigs: Performance, carcass characteristics, and ham quality. Meat science, 114, 38-45.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2015.12.010