Implementation of Technology to Predict Intramuscular Fat in Live Pigs Using Real-time Ultrasound

Tom J. Baas, Faculty, Animal Science


Ultrasound has been used extensively in the swine industry to assess composition traits in live pigs and carcasses and more recently, to estimate intramuscular fat content of the pork loin.  Applications of the technology include genetic selection, lean-growth modeling, body condition scoring, and carcass merit buying systems.  The ability of ultrasound technicians to accurately measure composition traits and intramuscular fat has allowed the swine industry to make significant progress in changing the composition of breeding and market swine.  The observed changes in composition are the result of high-quality ultrasound instrumentation and technician training.


The objective of this project was to develop a model to predict intramuscular in live pigs using real-time ultrasound and to make this technology available to the swine industry.


Research has been conducted at Iowa State University to develop procedures to estimate intramuscular fat in live pigs using real-time ultrasound.  Pigs at the ISU Swine Breeding Farm were used to develop the original model.  Additional pigs from two different projects were used to test and validate the model for accuracy of prediction.  Procedures used were described in a paper published in the Journal of Animal Science and details of the prediction model were published in the ISU Animal Industry Report.


A private company, Biotronics, Inc., has utilized the prediction model to develop software and make it available to the swine industry.  Three training programs for technicians have been conducted jointly by Biotronics, Inc., and Iowa State University, and the software is being used by technicians in the U.S. and in two foreign countries.  In addition, the software is being used in an ongoing selection project at ISU.

108 Iowa Pork Industry Center

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