Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Poultry Science (MS)

Degree Level



Poultry Science


Casey M. Owens

Committee Member

Michael T. Kidd

Second Committee Member

Sara K. Orlowski

Third Committee Member

Andy Mauromoustakos


Broiler, Meat Quality, Nutrition, Rearing, Strain, Tenderness


Through current trends in animal protein consumption, the United States poultry industry has seen a drastic rise in production and popularity. Over the last few decades, poultry meat has surpassed both beef and pork production to become the most widely consumed animal protein. This rise may be accredited to an increased transition to more health-conscious consumers. As more consumers purchase poultry as a lean source of protein, the need for a superior quality product is of great interest to poultry integrators.

Relationships between commercial broiler lines have been well documented in previous years, but constant and intensive genetic selection in the poultry industry has morphed modern broiler lines to perform differently from those previously investigated. Therefore, the need to address the impact of genetic selection on broiler meat quality was of paramount importance.

Chapter 2 characterized the growth performance of males and females from four modern broiler lines fed either a low- or high-density diet. Broilers reared for two processing weights were utilized and variation between the two were assessed. High yielding (HY) broilers produced the highest carcass, breast, and tender yields, whereas standard yielding (SY) broilers produced higher body weights, as well as wing and leg yields. Males produced higher final body weights than females, however, females produced higher carcass, breast, and tender yields. High density diets produced larger carcasses, breast, and tender yields while reducing total fat.

Concurrent with Chapter 2, Chapter 3 evaluated these broiler strains for variation in meat quality characteristics. Birds were processed by weight to meet two distinct markets for big bird and small bird debone markets, respectively. High yielding strains produced an increased incidence of all myopathies in comparison to SY strains. Males produced longer and thicker fillets, had increased incidences of white striping, and higher cook loss. Females however, showed an increase in woody breast and spaghetti meat incidence, higher ultimate pH, lighter fillets, and decreased peak counts. Males of the small bird debone market had decreased tenderness than those from the big bird market. However, females had higher degrees of tenderness in the small bird market. Variation in carcass dimensions were observed as males expressed a decrease in breast width as carcass width increased while female breast width increased as carcass size increased.

For both Chapters, strain and carcass size provided the main variation in samples. Thus, the assessment of specific markets provides opportunistic selection for integrators to assess for maximum return of investment when broilers are placed.