Amino acid supplementation counteracts negative effects of low protein diets on tail biting in pigs more than extra environmental enrichment

I. Minussi*, W.J.J. Gerrits, A.J.M. Jansman, R. Gerritsen, William Lambert, J.J. Zonderland, J.E. Bolhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Low protein (LP) diets may increase the occurrence of damaging behaviours, like tail biting, in pigs. We investigated the effect of supplementing a LP diet with indispensable amino acids (IAA) or environmental enrichment on tail biting. Undocked pigs (n = 48 groups of 12) received either a normal protein diet (NP), a LP, LP with supplemented IAA (LP+), or LP diet with extra environmental enrichment (LP-E+) during the starter, grower, and finisher phase. Performance, activity, behaviour, and body damage were recorded. LP and LP-E+ had a lower feed intake, growth, and gain-to-feed ratio, and were more active than NP and LP+ pigs. LP-E+ pigs interacted most often with enrichment materials, followed by LP, LP+, and NP pigs. LP pigs showed more tail biting than all other groups during the starter phase and the finisher phase (tendency) compared to NP and LP+ pigs. Thus, LP-E+ only reduced tail biting in the starter phase, whereas LP+ tended to do so throughout. Tail damage was more severe in LP pigs than in NP and LP+, with LP-E+ in between. In conclusion, IAA supplementation was more effective than extra environmental enrichment in countering the negative effects of a low protein diet on tail biting in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19268
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023

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