Beef - more than one species. In the
beef is mostly produced from cattle of the genus Bos. However, there are several other genera
which will interbreed with Bos to produce fertile, beefy
offspring: Bison; Poephagus,
the yak; Bibos, the
gaurs; Bubalus, the Indian buffalo; Sunda; and Syncerus,
the African buffalo.
In Canada, our interest is in the main evolutionary
steps from Bos primigenius (wild
cattle of ancient Europe, now extinct), to Bos longifrons (the first
domesticated cattle leaving fossils found in archaeological
excavations), to Bos taurus
Yak. The domesticated yak of China and Mongolia is Poephagus (also known as Bos grunniens). The wild yak may be called Bos mutus. The domesticated yak of Asia is smaller (maximum around 550 kg live weight for bulls and 350 kg for cows) than the wild yak. Yak hair is long and shaggy and is underlain by fine wool. The tail is a long brush, which is unusual for bovines. Yak meat is of secondary importance. Milk and hide products are more important.
Species of pigs. Fossil pig skeletons have been found in geological deposits dating back to the Pliocene period in Europe and Asia. Domestic pigs of Europe and North America appear to be a mixture of two original species of wild pig: Sus scrofa, the wild boar of Europe found north of the Alps, and S. vittatus, the wild pig now only found wild in the Malay Peninsula. Wild pigs of the same genus (Sus) but of different species to domestic pigs are found in India and Ceylon (S. cristatus). The domestic pigs now found in China are usually considered to be S. vittatus. Whether or not S. scrofa and S. vittatus should be considered as separate species is a difficult question because transitional races are now widespread, thus demonstrating the obvious point that the hybrids are fertile. The scientific distinction between S. scrofa and S. vittatus is based on the shape of the lacrimal bone in the skull (located round the orbit of the eye and supporting the tear duct from the eye to the nose). Several different subspecies of wild swine are recognised: Sus scrofa scrofa, Europe; S. s. meridionalis, Mediterranean; S. s. barbarus, North Africa; S. s. attila, Eastern Asia; and S. s. palustris, found in the archaeological excavations of Swiss Neolithic lake dwellings.
Early evidence of pork consumption. In the bone heaps around the eating areas of prehistoric peoples are found the remains of three types of pigs: bones of wild pigs obtained from hunting, bones of large pigs probably put out to forage, and bones of small pigs probably kept in confined or covered areas. Remains of domesticated pigs are not found before Neolithic times (the agricultural revolution when man became a settled farmer) and, since pigs are difficult to control (they do not easily form herds like the ruminants), the nomadic farmers of earlier times probably did not have any pigs. Tribal conflict between settled farmers and warlike nomads may explain why domestic pigs, the invention of the settled farmer, were first prohibited by some religions. Another factor is the existence of parasites such as the pork tapeworm and trichinella (described in LAB 3).
Because of their rooting habits when foraging, pigs probably produced a dramatic change in the local ecology by reducing woodland undergrowth and allowing grass to grow. Before the invention of ploughing, pigs may have been driven over seeded ground to embed the seeds. Pigs may be used to hunt for underground mushrooms (truffles) or to retrieve game, and these habits might have been important to primitive farmers.
Breeds of pigs
In medieval times, herded pigs
had a long snout and legs. Around the year 1800, Chinese pigs were
into Europe and combined with Sus scrofa.
This resulted in a dramatic phenotypic
change as pigs became thick-set in shape, smaller in size and laid down
earlier in life.
breeds was influenced by factors such as ease of taming, socially
behaviour, large numbers of offspring at relatively short intervals,
rapid growth and maturation, and longevity.
In the 1800s, the ability of pigs to store large amounts of fat
considered a desirable feature because, before the widespread use of
fuel energy for industrial machines, ordinary people expended large
energy in their daily work. The high
caloric content of fat and the high fat content of pork once provided
food energy. Nowadays, however, there
is intensive selection against fatness and in favour of lean muscle
development. For the gourmet, however, nothing comes close to fat pork
old-fashioned pig, especially if it is properly conditioned.
There are many
species and domestic breeds of sheep in five main groups;
(1), the moufflon from Mediterranean countries;
(2), urial from southern Russia;
(3), argali from the Himalayas;
(4), bighorn from Canada and eastern Russia; and
(5), domestic sheep, Ovis aries.
were domesticated at an early stage in the transition from nomad to
farmer. Goats probably were domesticated before sheep, but the
sheep precedes that of cattle and pigs.
Numerous characteristics have been changed by domestication. Many wild types of sheep have a wool-hair
mixture and, in hot climates, certain species are almost naked. Wool bearing sheep probably were derived
from animals originating in cold or mountain conditions. Domestic sheep
range from very short to very long tails, but all wild types have short
tails. Some sheep deposit fat in their
tails. The lop-eared characteristic is not found in wild sheep and was
very early during domestication. A convex nose is a striking feature of
breeds of sheep and is associated with a decrease in length of the
is a common feature in many other domesticated animals such as the pig
dog. Wild sheep often wield an array of
elaborately shaped horns. During
domestication the number has been reduced to a single pair, or horns
lost altogether (polled). Animals kept in arid, rocky conditions derive
advantage from long legs, while smaller sheep are better for winter
descended from the Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus gallus.
used as a generic term in some countries whereas, in others, chickens
categorised by age and type. In France, for example, the age range is
young poussin to the poule, an old fowl. Similarly, in North America,
different breeds usually become anonymous after slaughter, a series of
types is defined by age and size.
Rock Cornish are 4 to 5 weeks of age, their
carcasses weigh less than about
0.8 kg, and they may be males or females.
Broilers or fryers are about 5 to 8 weeks of
age, have carcass weights
1.8 kg, and may be males or females.
Roasters are males or females older than 9 weeks with
carcasses over 1.8
Capons are castrated males over 9 weeks of age and with carcasses over 1.8 kg. Surgical castration is difficult (because the male gonads are inside the body cavity near the kidneys, as described in LAB 4) and has been replaced by hormonal castration in most countries.
Chicken carcasses with tender meat may be identified by their soft, pliable and smooth‑textured skin, and by their flexible sternal cartilage. Chickens such as roosters and mature hens producing relatively tough meat are identified by their greater age, coarse skin, and stiff sternal cartilage. Several features may be used as a guide to the age of a chicken. Young birds have unwrinkled combs with sharp points. In older birds, the comb becomes wrinkled with blunt points. The plumage becomes worn and faded in older birds, unless the birds have just moulted. With age, the subcutaneous fat becomes darker and lumped under the main feather tracts, and the pelvic bones become less pliable. Old chickens have large scales which are rough and slightly raised and their oil sac becomes enlarged and hardened. Older male chickens develop long spurs.
Wild versus domestic ducks. Ducks,
geese and swans are grouped
together in the Order Anseriformes. Ducks comprise the Family Anatidae.
are poor walkers but good swimmers, which means their legs are set far
the body and are well muscled. Ducks are hunted extensively for their
main types are the surface-feeding ducks such as the wild mallard (Anas
teal and widgeon (Mareca americana);
the diving ducks such as the redhead (Aythya americana),
canvasback (Aythya valisineria) and ring-necked duck (Aythya
collaris); the sea ducks, which seldom provide meat with a
taste; stiff-tailed ducks such as the ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis);
and the mergansers, whose meat is seldom palatable.
Thus, wild ducks produce meat with a wide range from delectable to unpalatable. How much of the range is hereditary and how much is nutritional? Breed differences in the taste of poultry meat are slight to undetectable, so I would join most others in supposing that the range in palatability of duck meat is largely nutritional. Thus, the unpopular taste of meat from sea ducks and mergansers reflects what the ducks have been feeding on. At the other end of the range, the canvasback is rated very highly for the taste of its meat, but is instantly disqualified if it has been feeding on rotting salmon. Probably one of the key features of this dietary effect relates to the digestion of fats and oils in the bird’s diet. Fats and oils are formed from triglyceride - three fatty acids bonded to a glycerol backbone like the three arms of a capital letter E. As the triglyceride is digested and moved around the body to be deposited in the duck’s own fat, nothing happens to the structure of the fatty acids, they just get uncoupled and recoupled to a glycerol backbone. Thus, a fatty acid with an unpleasant taste from rotting salmon can move, unchanged, from the edge of the sea to the edge of your plate (details in LEC 19).
Two types of ducks
domesticated and are extensively farmed, these are worth knowing.
The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
and the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata). The Muscovy may be
identified by its claws (it is able to perch) and a red caruncle or
between the beak and the eyes. Breast meat from female Muscovies may be
tougher, drier and stronger in taste than that from males. The main
produced by domestication have been to increase growth rates and reduce
colouration of feathers. Carcass conformation is often not much
a muscular wild duck. Apart from
numerous duck breeds of layers and ornamentals, there are many meat
around the world. The top ratings
might be the Aylesbury in
England; the Rouen,
Nantes and Barbary in France; and the Long Island in the USA. But this
probably be argued by fanciers of other breeds such as the Blue
Crested, Pekin, and Black Cayuga. The muscular Muscovy is the winner if
yield and leanness are the main criteria.
In Canada, ducks
into a broiler-fryer category, less than 8 weeks of age, weighing 1.8
kg, either males or females; as distinct from the larger roaster, up to
weeks of age, either male or female. In Muscovies, the male is larger
female. Youthfulness in ducks is detected by softness of the bill,
cartilage and trachea.
History of the word - turkey.
Originally, an English
turkey-cock was a guinea fowl.
Guinea fowl had been
Africa and were a paradigm of showiness, as in Shakespeare’s Twelfth
“Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him.” With the exploration
America, the name was applied to the ancestors of the birds we now call
turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo.
The geographical range of wild M. gallopavo is from southern Canada, through the eastern and southern USA, down to Mexico. After the Spanish invasion of Mexico, Mexican strains of M. gallopavo were introduced into Europe where they were gradually improved and assumed the English name of turkey. Thus, when the English and French settled farther north in North America, turkeys (M. gallopavo) were re-introduced as domestic birds which were smaller and more compact than their wild ancestors. Agricultural development then restricted the range of wild turkeys, although they are now successfully conserved in various national parks and protected areas. In the old days, turkeys were eaten only on special occasions such as Christmas. But turkeys are now eaten every day, partly because of the invention of numerous processed turkey products, ranging from cooked breast meat slices to turkey sausage, and partly because customers have been introduced to a range of relatively small turkey cuts.