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J Anim Sci. 2012 Dec;90(12):4593-603. doi: 10.2527/jas.2012-5330. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Effect of feed restriction on hormones, performance, carcass traits, and meat quality in immunocastrated pigs.

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Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Hacquetova ulica 17, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


The aim of this study was to assess the effect of feed restriction applied to immunocastrated pigs in the period after the second vaccination (V2) against GnRH on hormonal status, performance, carcass traits, and meat quality. Immunocastrated pigs (IC) were compared with entire males (EM) and surgical castrates fed ad libitum. Pigs (Large White × Landrace) × Pietrain were either left entire or surgically castrated within 1 wk after birth (SC, n = 22). At 83 d of age, the entire males were further allotted to treatment groups (individual housing) of ad libitum fed EM (n = 24), ad libitum fed IC (IC-L, n = 21), or restrictively fed IC (IC-R, n = 21). At that time, the first vaccination (V1) was applied to IC-L and IC-R pigs. One week after V2 (age 130 d), feed restriction (≈ 80% of the ad libitum feed intake of SC pigs) was applied to IC-R pigs. The experiment ended 5 wk after V2, when pigs were 165 d old. Immunocastration successfully reduced boar taint compounds and size of reproductive organs. At 130 d, serum leptin concentrations were similar in all groups, whereas IGF-I concentration was less in SC (P ≤ 0.002) than in the other groups. Three weeks after V2, leptin concentrations of both IC groups were in between EM (least) and SC (greatest). The reverse was observed for IGF-I. Feed restriction had no effect on leptin or IGF-I concentrations in IC pigs. In the period V1 to V2, performance differed mainly between EM and SC, whereas both IC groups had feed intake and feed conversion ratio similar to EM and intermediate daily BW gain, not differing from either EM or SC. After V2, IC-L pigs increased their feed intake to the concentrations of SC, with faster growth compared with the other 3 groups (P < 0.05) and fatter carcasses compared with EM pigs (P = 0.007). Similar performance and carcass leanness were observed for IC-R and EM pigs. During preslaughter handling more carcass lesions were noted in EM and IC-R than in IC-L or SC pigs (P < 0.002). Neither immunocastration nor feed restriction had any effect on meat quality, but EM had greater drip loss, less intramuscular fat, and decreased tenderness than SC pigs. In conclusion, restricting feed intake can increase production efficiency but also aggressiveness of IC pigs.

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