In practice, poultry have their feed with drawn several hours before being collected and put on transport to the slaughter plant. With the exhaustion of their internal energy stores, the chickens may lack energy to cope with the conditions to which they are subjected. Meat quality is affected by the energy stored in the muscle at time of slaughter and its rate of decrease postmortem. Of 320 broiler chickens, half were subjected to 5 h feed deprivation whereas the others had access to feed until transport. In both groups, half the chickens were transported for 1.5 h, and the rest were transported within 5 min to the on-site slaughter facility. Twenty chickens were equipped with an ultrafiltration-collection device for monitoring glucose and lactate profiles. After slaughter, liver pH was measured. Stimulation of muscle metabolism was minimized by avoiding plucking. Breast muscle samples were taken at 0, 1, 2, 4, and 6 h and analyzed for pH and metabolite concentrations, and meat quality was measured at 96 h. Although liver glycogen was depleted in feed-deprived chickens, feed deprivation and transport for short periods were not found to affect blood glucose or lactate levels nor glycogen levels in the muscle at slaughter. Muscle carbohydrate metabolism was found to come to a complete halt after 6 h, which was not caused by exhaustion of the glycogen store but by the muscle's ability to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) after 4 h. At this time, rigor mortis had set in and deboning could be done without risk of cold shortening.
Savenije, B., Lambooij, E., Gerritzen, M. A., Venema, K., & Korf, J. (2002). Effects of feed deprivation and transport on preslaughter blood metabolites, early postmortem muscle metabolites and meat quality. Poultry Science, 81, 699-708. https://doi.org/10.1093/ps/81.5.699