Proximate composition, fatty acid profile, and heme iron and cholesterol content of rabbit meat as affected by sire breed, season, parity order, and gender in an organic production system Zotte A., Cullere M., Alberghini L., Catellani P., Paci G. (2016): Proximate composition, fatty acid profile, and heme iron and cholesterol content of rabbit meat as affected by sire breed, season, parity order, and gender in an organic production system. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 61: 383-390.
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The study evaluated the effects of sire breed (SB: Vienna Blue (VB) and Burgundy Fawn (BF)), parity order (P: 1 = nulliparous, 2 = primiparous, ≥3 = multiparous), slaughter season (SS: spring, summer), and gender (G: males, females) on the meat quality of rabbits reared under an organic production system. They originated from VB and BF sires mated with females derived from a mix of crossbreds (medium- to large-sized breeds). Rabbits were 46 ± 6 days old, they were housed in groups of five in collective cages, fed a pelleted diet, and slaughtered at a live weight of 2.8 ± 0.13 kg. The hind leg meat samples (from 30 VB and 28 BF crossbred rabbits) were divided into two sub-samples: one was freshly packed in plastic bags, and the other was freeze-dried. Samples were stored at –20°C until analysis. The fresh hind leg samples were analyzed for heme iron and cholesterol contents, and fatty acid (FA) profiles. The freeze-dried hind leg samples were analyzed for proximate composition. Moisture and protein contents were affected by SS. The hind leg meat of rabbits slaughtered in summer showed lower moisture (P < 0.01), higher protein (P < 0.01), and lower cholesterol (P < 0.05) contents than that of rabbits slaughtered in spring. Meat of rabbits slaughtered in summer had less C14:0 (P < 0.05) and C16:0 FA (P < 0.01) and a higher proportion of total polyunsaturated FA (PUFA) (P < 0.001) due to n-6 FA (P < 0.01). The proportion of total saturated FA, C18:3 n-3 and C20:3 n-6 (P < 0.05), was influenced by gender. The BF crossbreed showed higher levels of total PUFA (P < 0.05) when reared in summer, primarily due to significant differences in C18:2 n-6 (P < 0.01) and C18:3 n-3 (P < 0.01). This study demonstrates that when rabbits are slaughtered in summer, their meat quality is better because the animals require longer time to reach the fixed slaughter weight; the meat is therefore characterized by a higher degree of maturity, with higher total PUFA and lower cholesterol contents.
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