Sixteen Muscovy ducklings of Italian rural strain, hatched at the Experimental Avian Station of the Department of Animal Production of Pisa (Italy) were tested. All animals were fed a starter diet (12.1MJ ME/kg and 240 g CP/kg) from 0 to 35th day of age and a growing diet (12.0MJ ME/kg and 200 g CP/kg) from 36th day until slaughtering (64th day for females and 71st day for males) (control diet). In the last three weeks, animal were fed a modified growing diet enriched with 0.5% dried microalga Crypthecodinium cohnii (enriched diet). Both diets were isonitrogenous and isocaloric; energy source was olive oil. Animals were starved for 12 hours before slaughtering. Samples of M. Pectoralis major from 16 animals (8 females and 8 males) were analysed after thawing and roasting without salt or spices; cooked samples were immediately sliced and randomly offered to trained panellists. The traits assessed were: tenderness, juiciness, fibrousness and acceptability. A five-point scale was used, 1 referring to very disagreeable, very tough, very dry, very fibrous and 5 to very agreeable, extremely tender, very juicy, without fibre (Cross et al., 1986). By comparing data by one-way analysis of variance (using diet as independent factors for each sex group) tenderness, juiciness, fibrousness and acceptability were not influenced by diet. Using sex as source of variation, fibrousness was affected by sex (3.17 for females and 2.54 for males; P = 0.019). The inclusion of 0.5% of microalga meal did not negatively influenced the sensory traits of duck meat and it represents an interesting way to improve DHA content in duck meat using a diet formulated without animal sources.
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