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J Anim Sci. 2004 Sep;82(9):2579-87.

Compensatory growth and nitrogen balance in grower-finisher pigs.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Auburn University, AL 36849-5415, USA.


Sixteen castrated male pigs (averaging 21.2 +/- 4.9 kg) were used in two trials to investigate the effect of dietary amino acid content during the grower phase on growth performance and N balance. In each trial, pigs were assigned randomly to corn-soybean meal grower diets formulated to contain 5.0 or 11.0 g lysine/kg (as-fed basis). Common Finisher 1 and 2 diets were offered when pigs reached 51.2 +/- 3.3 and 79.5 +/- 3.4 kg, respectively. Pigs were placed in metabolism crates for a 9-d period during each of the grower, Finisher 1, and Finisher 2 phases when they weighed 43.3 +/- 3.9, 70.4 +/- 4.9, and 90.5 +/- 3.8 kg, respectively, to determine N balance. Blood samples were taken from each pig periodically after an overnight fast. Pigs were allowed ad libitum access to feed and water, except during the three adaptation/collection periods. There were no diet x trial interactions; thus, the data were combined. Pigs fed the low-amino acid grower diet grew more slowly and less efficiently (P < 0.001) during the grower phase and had more ultrasound backfat (P = 0.010) at the end of the grower phase than those fed the high-amino acid grower diet. During the Finisher 1 phase, however, pigs fed the low-amino acid diet grew more efficiently (P = 0.012) than those fed the high-amino acid diet, and the grower diet had no effect on overall weight gain, carcass traits, lean accretion, or meat quality scores. Although pigs fed the low-amino acid diet had less serum urea N (P < 0.001) and more glucose (P = 0.009) at 43.3 kg, there seemed to be no clear, long-term effect of the grower diet on serum metabolites. During the grower phase, pigs fed the high-amino acid diet consumed more N (P < 0.001), had higher apparent N digestibility (P = 0.041), N utilization (P = 0.027), and N retention (P < 0.001), and excreted more fecal (P = 0.034) and urinary (P < 0.001) N than those fed the low-amino acid diet. Pigs fed the low-amino acid grower diet, however, had a higher N utilization (P = 0.024) during the Finisher 1 phase, and excreted less urinary N during both the Finisher 1 (P = 0.029) and 2 (P = 0.027) phases than those fed the high-amino acid grower diet. These results indicate that pigs subjected to early dietary amino acid restrictions compensated completely and decreased N excretion during both the restriction and realimentation phases. Compensatory growth can, therefore, have a positive effect not only on the overall efficiency of pig production but also on environment.

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