1. Developmental states of the collagen content, distribution and architecture in the pectoralis (PT), iliotibialis lateralis (ITL) and puboischiofemoralis (PIF) muscles of male Red Cornish x New Hampshire (RN, 80 d, body weight 2.9 kg) and normal (3.1 kg) broilers were evaluated. 2. In PT muscle the total amount of collagen was significantly greater in RN broilers (3.33 mg/g) than in normal ones (1.71 mg/g). This higher collagen content in RN broilers was based mainly on the closer mesh sizes of endomysial honeycomb. The collagen structures in the perimysia also differed between broiler types, when more collagen fibres were observed in RN broilers. 3. ITL muscle contained total collagen of 4.10 to 5.00 mg/g. Types I and III collagens were distributed on the perimysia at higher percentages in RN broilers (31.6%, 37.2%) than normal (15.6%, 30.8%), respectively. The thick bands of tough collagen fibres characteristic of ITL muscle perimysium in cockerels had not yet developed in these broilers. 4. Total collagen was 4.63 to 6.29 mg/g in PIF material with fascia. In PIF muscle the perimysial collagen fibres had not yet attained their full growth but consisted of densely packed fibrils. PIF muscle was characterised by the earlier maturing collagen structure. 5. These results show that a perimysial collagen structure in broilers is still in an undeveloped state. It is supposed that tenderness of broiler meat is attributed mainly to characteristics of the collagen distribution, in which the majority of types I and III collagens is distributed on the closer mesh of endomysial honeycomb.
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