You are what you eat – and this is particularly true if you are a hog. Up to 75 percent of the fat in swine feed rations finds its way directly to a hog’s body fat. Hog producers are under considerable pressure to reduce operating costs to maintain profitability. One way to lower feed costs is to increase the incorporation of distillers grains – DDGs – in the hog’s feed rations.
Reducing feed costs in this manner is not without consequences. The fat in DDGs is significantly different than native corn oil. The free fatty acid content is considerably higher, and the level of unsaturated fats is elevated. This leads to elevated levels of unsaturated fats in the hog’s carcass fat.
If you have had difficulty separating individual slices of bacon without tearing the fat then you have seen the result of elevated DDGs incorporation rates in the swine feed ration. Higher unsaturated fat levels in the carcass fat lead to soft, rather mushy fat in the pork belly and dorsal areas of the hog. Bruker Optics has developed a NIR calibration to determine the Iodine Value in raw pork fat in cooperation with researchers at Kansas State University.
The calibration allows pork producers and processors to employ the speed and precision of NIR to screen pork fat samples for fat with high degrees of unsaturated fat. The reference values for the calibration were obtained using the Calculated GC-IV values according to AOCS method Cd 1c-85. The NIR determination of Iodine Value in solid, raw pork fat takes about 30 seconds and produces results that compare favorably with the reference method.
Using the NIR method for Iodine Value determination provides excellent precision, speed and exceptionally low cost per sample, allowing analysis of large numbers of samples to yield statistically significant trending of fat quality in pork.