Recent findings indicate that altering broiler chicken diets can help mitigate the severity of woody breast and white striping, two poultry meat quality issues that appear to be increasing in prevalence in many markets. A multitude of poultry researchers are exploring various approaches to eradicate these muscle myopathies. Novus International’s poultry scientists have recently concluded, based on several studies in both commercial and research environments, that MINTREX® trace minerals fed in combination with an antioxidant feed preservative, can significantly reduce the severity of woody breast and white striping in broilers by up to 50 percent. As a result, Novus has identified a proven nutritional strategy to help mitigate severe incidences of these muscle myopathies in broiler chickens.
While these two meat quality issues do not pose any known risks to the food supply or consumers, they significantly impact producers. Severe cases can result in poultry meat of lower quality, leading to additional processing costs, downgrading of products and the potential condemnation of meat. It is estimated that the incidence of woody breast alone in poultry meat can be attributed to over $200 million USD of annual economic loss in the U.S. (Kuttappan et al., 2016). Finally, producers have actionable options to help protect against this loss. What leads to the incidence of the issue remains unclear, but producers can be reassured that the impact can be greatly reduced.
Reducing muscle myopathies
A single solution to eradicate woody breast and white striping and preserve profits has been difficult to define because the exact cause remains unclear. It is known that some birds tend to show more frequent and severe cases, but the underlying cause has not been confirmed. However, industry’s leading researchers have seen evidence that circulatory insufficiency and oxidative stress in the muscle are associated with the occurrence of these muscle abnormalities (Abasht et al. 2016).
Woody breast, named for its hard or “wooden” appearance, is the most severe and troublesome myopathy as it significantly impacts meat texture and taste, therefore impacting consumer acceptance. White striping is another type of myopathy where connective tissue creates white “stripes” of varying thickness across the breast muscle, but this still affects meat quality. The industry has developed a rating system in which each abnormality is scored based on severity from 0 (no indication of myopathy) to 3 (severe).