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Myopathies associated with woody breast/white striping are apparent to poultry processors, further processors and consumers. | Dr. Amit Morey, Auburn University
on October 16, 2017

Reducing woody breast: latest broiler nutritional research

As research on the causes of woody breast and white striping in broiler chickens continues, nutritional measures to reduce the incidence and severity are emerging.

The syndrome known as woody breast and white striping in broiler chickens has emerged in recent years as a worldwide problem for which the exact causes are unknown, but extensive scientific research is now yielding clues about how to reduce its incidence and severity.

Read the entire report about reducing woody breast exclusively in the October issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

Dr. Tara York, technical manager for AB Vista, speaking at the 2017 Poultry Nutrition & Milling Seminar, presented a survey of promising research about possible causes and reduction strategies for white striping. The research centered on the following woody breast management and nutritional strategies:

  • Reduction of amino acids in broiler diets to slow the animal’s growth rate
  • Super-dosing antioxidants in growing rations to reduce potential myopathies in the muscle tissue
  • Optimizing early nutrition to protect birds from the negative effects of environmental stresses throughout the growing period
  • Management of the growing environment, including avoiding potential stressors to the chick embryo during incubation and maintaining superior year-round ventilation in growing houses

Economic impact, consumer acceptance at stake

Myopathies associated with woody breast/white striping are apparent to poultry processors, further processors and consumers, alike. White striping involves a visible deposition of fat and fibrous tissue between muscle fibers. Woody/wooden chicken breasts are firm to hard breast meat that may have a prominent ridge down its length. The breast meat may also have a pale color, soft consistency and poor water holding capacity.

The economic impact of woody breast and white striping in chicken breast meat in the U.S. is considerable, York estimates, and could cost the broiler industry more than $200 million per year due to decreased yield (trimming, drip loss, cook loss, etc.) or more if product is discarded. That’s not including the indirect costs of the negative impacts on customer acceptance and consumer satisfaction due to the hardening and striping of the breast meat.

With U.S. broiler production at 53 billion pounds (live weight) of chicken per year and 23 percent breast meat yield, she calculates the number of pounds of chicken breast meat at risk for the myopathies is 12 billion pounds annually.

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