Autochthonous pig breeds represent a valuable genetic reserve to utilise for typical products linked to the gastronomic traditions of Italy, or for recovering some organoleptic proprieties of pork actually lost because of severe selective programmes. These extreme phenotypes can be used to emphasize the loci involved in the productive traits by crossing with selected pigs or as a model to understand the physiological process of fat deposition. Moreover, the importance of recovering the primitive germoplasm is suggested also by the fact that, generally, the Mediterranean pig breeds seems to be free from the halothane gene. The survival of these breeds is strictly connected to a good assessment and exploitation of their performances, considering that the latter may involve both rearing environments and interactions between feeding plan adopted and breed characteristics. Even if the free range system worsened growth performance, studies had documented that the semi- extensive (plein air) condition brings about better performances for unimproved pigs. The link with the semi extensive rearing could be suitable to increase the commercial value of products of local pigs, because of both effective characterization and consumer preferences. Considering that the information on the research on the Italian local pigs is limited, it is necessary to increase a suitable activity of research to exploit these breeds and to increase the knowledge of their rearing system. A valid example is the Iberian pig. In fact, it is evident that the productive system of the Iberian pig is maintained by an adequate research activity, that produced in the last twelve years about 100 articles in scientific journal. In conclusion, it is required to elucidate the optimal management that improves the growth and meat quality traits of Italian local breeds and, in addition, to conduct research regarding the genetic traceability, feeding traceability and sustainable exploitation of natural resources.
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