Growth Performance, Carcass Traits and Meat Quality of Slower-growing and Fast-growing Chickens Raised with and without Outdoor Access

  • Mikulski, Dariusz (Department of Poultry Science, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Celej, Joanna (Department of Poultry Science, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Jankowski, Jan (Department of Poultry Science, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Majewska, Teresa (Department of Poultry Science, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Mikulska, Marzena (Department of Poultry Science, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury)
  • Received : 2011.02.16
  • Accepted : 2011.06.08
  • Published : 2011.10.01


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of genotype (slower-growing vs. fast-growing) and production system (access to outdoors vs. indoor) on the growth performance, carcass yield and meat quality (chemical composition, physicochemical and sensory properties) of chickens. The experiment was performed on 1,040 day-old hybrid male chickens of two genotypes. Slower-growing chickens (Hubbard JA957, certified) and fast-growing chickens (Hubbard F15) were fed identical diets until 65 days of age. Both genotypes (each represented by 520 birds) were divided into two subgroups and were raised in pens on litter with outdoor access or in indoor confinement without outdoor access (four replications per subgroup, each of 65 birds). Until day 21, the birds stayed in the indoor facility, in deep-litter pens. The birds could forage on pasture 12 h daily, commencing at three weeks of age. Stocking density was 0.13 $m^2$ floor space per bird in pens on litter, and 0.8 $m^2$ per bird in grassy yards. Compared with fast-growing, slower-growing chickens were significantly lighter (by 17%), had a lower breast and thigh muscle yield and a higher abdominal fat content, but they were characterized by higher survival rates at 65 days, a higher protein content and a lower fat content of breast meat. Outdoor access had no negative effects on the growth performance, muscle yield, the fatty acid profile and oxidative status of meat lipids. The meat of free-range chickens was darker in color, it had a higher protein content and a better water-holding capacity, but it was less juicy than the meat of birds raised indoors.


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