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J Anim Sci. 2007 Mar;85(3):769-78.

Compensatory growth response in pigs: effects on growth performance, composition of weight gain at carcass and muscle levels, and meat quality.

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  • 1INRA, UMR 1079, Systèmes d'Elevage et Nutrition Animale et Humaine, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France.


A restriction/realimentation feeding strategy was applied to pigs to increase the age at market weight and final ADG, modify protein and lipid deposition rates at carcass and muscle levels, and thereby improve eating quality of the pork. A total of 126 Duroc x (Large White x Landrace) pigs (females and castrated males) were used. At the average BW of 30 kg, within litter and sex, pairs of littermates (blocked by BW) were randomly assigned to ad libitum (AL) feeding during growing (30 to 70 kg of BW) and finishing (70 to 110 kg of BW) periods (AL, n = 56), or restricted feeding at 65% of the ADFI of the AL pigs, on a BW basis, during the growing period and AL feeding during finishing (compensatory growth, CG; n = 56). In each feeding regimen, 15 pigs were slaughtered at 70 kg of BW, and 41 pigs were slaughtered at 110 kg of BW. Additionally, 14 pigs were slaughtered at 30 kg of BW to calculate tissue deposition rates. The CG pigs showed decreased ADG (-35%, P = 0.001) during growing but increased ADG (+13%, P = 0.001) during finishing (i.e., compensatory growth) due to greater (P = 0.001) ADFI and G:F. Hence, CG pigs were 19 d older at 110 kg of BW than AL pigs. The CG pigs were leaner at 70 kg of BW than AL (e.g., 11.7 vs. 13.5 mm of average backfat thickness for CG and AL pigs, respectively, P = 0.023), whereas the differences were reduced at 110 kg of BW (20.6 vs. 21.0 mm of average backfat thickness for CG and AL pigs, respectively, P = 0.536). At 70 kg of BW, intramuscular fat (IMF) content of LM did not differ between CG and AL pigs (1.25 vs. 1.49%, respectively, P = 0.118), whereas CG pigs had less IMF in LM at 110 kg of BW (2.19 vs. 2.53% for CG and AL pigs, respectively, P = 0.034). Feeding regimen influenced the composition of weight gain. From 30 to 70 kg of BW, feed restriction reduced (P = 0.001) lean and adipose tissue deposition at the carcass level and protein and lipid deposition at the muscle level. From 70 to 110 kg of BW, the CG feeding strategy increased (P = 0.016) deposition of adipose but not of lean tissue at the carcass level. However, lipid and protein deposition at the muscle level were not affected. Thus, realimentation promoted deposition of subcutaneous fat over IMF. Feeding regimen hardly affected technological meat quality at 110 kg of BW. The CG feeding strategy decreased (P = 0.014) the meat juiciness score in relation to the decreased IMF but did not influence other sensory traits. Elevated IMF content and improved pork quality might be achieved by modifying the onset or duration of the restriction and realimentation periods.

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