Although feeding distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) results in softer bellies with higher iodine values, a Pork Checkoff-funded study at the University of Kentucky assures that slicing efficiency and bacon quality and consumer acceptance, based on a taste panel evaluation, were not negatively affected by the softer bellies.

A recent study by nine universities (North Central Coordinating Committee on Swine Nutrition ([NCCC-42]) showed that dietary inclusion of 30-45% DDGS had little effect on growth performance of grow-finish pigs. However, carcasses contained more unsaturated fat, causing softer bellies. Iodine levels of backfat increased from an acceptable level (70 to 74) up to 84 in pigs fed the highest level of DDGS.

The objective of this study was to find out if those high levels of DDGS affected eating quality of pork products.

Carcasses from the NCCC-42 study were evaluated from 60 pigs (three replications of five pigs per treatment) that were fed 0, 15, 30 or 45% DDGS from 77 to 264 lb. Chilled carcasses were separated into primal cuts, and bellies were processed according to standard procedures.

The bellies were transported to a commercial facility, pumped with brine and smoked overnight. The next morning, bellies were weighed and sliced with a high-speed slicer. Incomplete slicing and comb marks were removed from the sliced bacon. Bacon was weighed and slicing yield was determined. Fracture analyses were determined on fresh bacon slices, then slices were fried to determine distortion scores.

An eight-member taste panel evaluated the cooked bacon slices for sensory characteristics.

Bratwurst sausage was prepared from shoulders of the carcasses, and sections of the loins were saved. After cooking, the sausage and loin chops were subjected to sensory evaluation by the sensory panel.

Results showed bellies were softer, as expected, with higher iodine values in pigs fed increasing levels of DDGS (Table 1). Contrary to packing industry reports, however, no decrease in slicing yield was observed in cured and smoked bellies from pigs fed high levels of DDGS.

Also, sliced fresh bacon quality, as measured by shatter scores, was significantly better in the softer bellies. Cooking shrink and distortion scores were not affected by treatment.

Taste panel members did not notice any difference in texture or other measures of eating quality of the bacon from the four treatment groups.

Bratwurst sausage scores were acceptable in all treatment groups, but sausages were softer, less chewy and juicier when pigs were fed the highest level of DDGS. Loin chop scores tended to suggest that tenderness and juiciness improved with the higher level of DDGS fed to pigs.

Overall, these results suggest that feeding high levels of DDGS to pigs had no negative effects on processing characteristics of pork bellies or eating quality of bacon, sausage or loin chops.

Researchers: Gregg Rentfrow, Kaitlyn McClelland, Gary Cromwell and Merlin Lindemann, University of Kentucky. For more information, contact Rentfrow by phone (859) 257-7550, fax (859) 323-1027 or e-mail