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There is large variation in the production performance of commercial growing-finishing pig farms. This variation even exists when pigs have a similar genetic background and fed similar diets. The health status is one of the major factors contributing to this large variation in pig performance, as activation of the immune system can decrease feed intake, body weight gain and increase nutrient utilisation for immune system functioning. As a consequence, amino acids (AA) are repartitioned from skeletal muscle deposition towards utilisation for immune system functioning. Current requirement estimates for growing-finishing pigs are formulated to maximize protein deposition for growth and do not take into account the increased utilization of AA for immune functioning as induced by health challenging conditions. This lack of knowledge hampers the ability of feed manufacturers to optimize diets and improve pig performance. The main objective of the present thesis was to quantify the effect of health status on AA requirements for body protein deposition and for immune system functioning of growing pigs.
A health status web was developed as a tool to categorize growing-finishing pig farms on the basis of their health status. The health status web can be of use for feed manufacturers to develop targeted strategies to accommodate the nutritional requirements of pigs belonging to particular groups of farms sharing a common health status. A dose-response technique was developed, which is a simple, accurate technique to quantitatively estimate changes in AA requirements of individual meal-fed pigs. Nevertheless, a minimum time period of 21 days is required for each individual, which makes the technique inappropriate for studying the effect of immune system activation on AA requirements. The combined measurements of whole body N retention, plasma irreversible loss rate (ILR, i.e. the amount of free AA that disappears per unit of time from the plasma pool for protein synthesis or oxidation), urea entry and appearance of 13C into plasma proteins, provided insight into the consequences of immune system activation on AA metabolism.
Pigs selected from a farm with a suboptimal health status had greater serum haptoglobin, lower serum albumin concentrations, and greater leukocyte counts in blood at the start of the experiment than pigs selected from a farm with a high health status, indicating a higher level of immune system activation. The occurrence of compensatory gain in pigs from a farm characterized as having a suboptimal health status proves, however, that it is difficult to maintain a contrast in health status, and that pigs can adapt quickly to a change in housing conditions. In the absence of effects on feed intake, health challenging conditions may affect performance due to alterations in post-absorptive AA metabolism, as also indicated by increased urinary N losses, and a tendency for a reduced N retention and a lower utilization of digestible N for N retention in pigs with a systemic inflammation, or by a reduction in faecal nutrient digestibility as indicated for dry matter and N in pigs from a farm with a suboptimal health status. The observed changes in protein and AA metabolism after immune stimulation imply that especially tryptophan may become limiting during immune system activation, whereas lysine becomes excessive. Furthermore, the utilization of methionine, tyrosine, and valine for immune system functioning seems to increase in pigs with a systemic lung inflammation. In addition, the dietary AA or protein supply was able to modulate the acute phase response pre- and post-challenge, stressing the importance of an adequate dietary AA supply for appropriate functioning of the immune system of growing-finishing pigs.
Before implementing targeted feeding strategies for farms sharing a common health status, future research should be conducted to study the possible beneficial effects of increasing the dietary supply of particularly tryptophan, methionine, tyrosine, and valine relative to lysine for immune system function and for body protein deposition in pigs from farms with a different health status.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||12 Jun 2015|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
- animal health
- amino acids
- nutrient requirements
- dietary protein
- amino acid metabolism
- nitrogen retention
- immune response
- immune system
- pig feeding
- animal nutrition