TECHNICAL ARTICLES Swine

Factors influencing nutrient requirements in pigs

Nutrition andfeed management are very important aspects of pig production. Feed accounts for up to 75% of production cost. The quality of feed determines to a large extent the productivity of any herd.

The pig is an omnivorous single stomach or monogastric animal consuming a wide variety of feeds. In the early days, domesticated pigs were allowed to forage on grass, roots, refuse and whatever was available. Later, pigs were confined to dirt lots or pastures and fed a combination of maize and skimmed milk.

Due to genetic improvements, the modern pig is housed in specialized housing systems and fed a well balanced diet fulfilling in all the nutrient requirements for optimal production.

Efficient and profitable pig production depends upon an understanding of the concepts of genetics, environment, health status, management and nutrition, and are as follows:

• Genetics
• Sex
• Feed quality
• Feed intake
• Environment
• Physiological age
• Anti nutritional factors
• Health status

Genetics

Pigs of different breeds and genetics have different capabilities for production and therefore different nutrient requirements. The maximum protein deposition capacity of a pig will be determined to a large extend by the growth rate of the pig at any given point of development.

Sex

In the growing phase the sex of the animal also influence lean tissue deposition. Males, females and castrates will all have different nutrient requirements for meat production. Subsequently, the nutrient requirements of the reproductive animals will also differ from that of growing animals.

Feed quality

Feed quality consists of various factors which include:

• feed texture, i.e. mash, crumbles or pellets,
• raw material nutrient availability,
• variability in raw material quality,
• raw material composition of the diet and,
• the presence of anti-nutritional factors.

Feed intake

Feed intake is a direct function of the ability of the pig to satisfy its nutrient requirement. Factors that will influence feed intake are the physical capacity of the pig, the palatability of the diet, environmental temperature and the presence of any nutrient deficiencies. In order for the pig to meet its nutrient requirements, feed intake will be adjusted according to the nutrient density of the diets. However, this adjustment in feed intake will remain a function of the physical capacity of the pig for feed intake.

Physiological age

The capacity for protein deposition increases with age, plateaus at maturity and declines hereafter. However, appetite increases with age resulting in an increase in energy intake thereby exceeds the energy requirement for protein deposition. This surplus energy is then stored as body fat, reducing carcass quality.

Environment

Environmental temperatures and housing conditions play and important role in determining the energy requirements of the pig. Pigs housed at temperatures lower than their thermoneutral requirement may have a higher energy requirement to maintain body temperature than pigs’ housed at thermoneutral temperatures. On the other hand, if the temperature exceeds the pig’s thermoneutral requirement, appetite may be suppressed in order to help reduce heat stress.

Anti-growth factors

Anti-growth factors may influence production adversely and increase production costs. These factors include anti-nutritional factors influencing nutrient digestion, as well as mycotoxins.

Herd health status

The presence of diseases may reduce current as well as subsequent pig production. Diseases can influence both the digestive and immune systems, thereby altering the feed intake of the sick animal.

In summary the pig has a potential production performance as determined by its genotype. Animals will always try to achieve this genetic potential. However, certain constraints are affecting the pig’s ability to reach this potential. Both these factors, the genetic potential of the pig, as well as the environmental constraints, will determine the nutrient requirement of the pig, and thereby the performance of the pig.

Meadow Feeds has, therefore, developed a range of pig diets that will fulfill the nutrient requirements of both high and low producing genetic lines, aimed at optimizing feeding strategies in order to achieve the best possible financial gain.

All diets are formulated to ensure that the pig will be able to optimize nutrient intake and growth performance under a variety of environmental conditions. To ensure that diets are of consistent quality, each raw material is tested by Near Infra Red (NIR) and on a regular basis with wet chemistry. Only raw materials of the highest quality are used in the Meadow pig diets.

Date published: 2007-05-27

Author:
Gerhard Pretorious

Publication: N/A