Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science


For many years animal scientists have been striving to find the “foolproof” method foreseeing the desired carcass and consumer characteristics in live animals before they are slaughtered. As a result, several different live animal and carcass evaluation techniques have been developed and tested with slow but encouraging success in some areas. This “never-ending” search has been stimulated by the development of new and more sophisticated research tools and facilities as time advances. Increasing consumer demands for a muscular, trim, high quality meat product makes identification of these desired traits in the live animal and carcass necessary. Thus, the producer, feeder and packer could supply the product in greatest demand more efficiently and economically. In fact, the current competition of meat substitutes and convenience foods may make this early evaluation of economic traits necessary for the advancement or even survival of the meat animal industry in the growing food market. In this experiment the use of pork muscle fiber diameter and number within two different muscles of the carcass was studied as a meaningful and practical evaluation tool. This is not a new endeavor, since literature cites evidence of the curiosity about muscle fibers since the invention of the microscope. However, for many years emphasis on muscle chemistry has foreshadowed the muscle physical characteristics and their relation to meatiness and quality traits. Recent renewal of interest in muscle structure may have been stimulated by greatly improved equipment for the completion of more detailed and meaningful experimentation as well as the increasing need for more accurate evaluation of animals and carcasses. Several important pork meatiness and quality characteristics have been compared with muscle fiber data of heavy weight market barrows fed differing protein levels. Efforts to study the influence of nutrition, muscle location and function, and age on the size and number of pork muscle fibers were completed in this experiment. Furthermore, muscle fiber data were tested in the prediction of several live animal and carcass traits that may be helpful to the producer and packer.

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South Dakota State University