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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Growth, Physiology, and Reproduction

Limited and excess dietary protein during gestation affects growth and compositional traits in gilts and impairs offspring fetal growth12


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 89 No. 2, p. 329-341
    Received: Mar 08, 2010
    Accepted: Sept 29, 2010
    Published: December 4, 2014

    4 Corresponding author(s):

  1. C. Rehfeldt*33,
  2. I. S. Lang33,
  3. S. Görs,
  4. U. Hennig,
  5. C. Kalbe*,
  6. B. Stabenow,
  7. K.-P. Brüssow§,
  8. R. Pfuhl*,
  9. O. Bellmann,
  10. G. Nürnberg#,
  11. W. Otten and
  12. C. C. Metges 4
  1. Muscle Biology and Growth,
    Nutritional Physiology “Oskar Kellner,”
    Experimental Animal Facilities,
    Reproductive Biology,
    Genetics and Biometry, and
    Behavioral Physiology Research Units, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany



The aim of this study was to investigate whether dietary protein intake during gestation less than or greater than recommendations affects gilts growth and body composition, gestation outcome, and colostrum composition. German Landrace gilts were fed gestation diets (13.7 MJ of ME/kg) containing a low (n = 18; LP, 6.5% CP), an adequate (n = 20; AP, 12.1%), or a high (n = 16; HP, 30%) protein content corresponding to a protein:carbohydrate ratio of 1:10.4, 1:5, and 1:1.3, respectively, from mating until farrowing. Gilts were inseminated by semen of pure German Landrace boars and induced to farrow at 114 d postcoitum (dpc; Exp. 1). Energy and protein intake during gestation were 33.3, 34.4, and 35.8 MJ of ME/d (P < 0.001) and 160, 328, and 768 g/d, respectively, in LP, AP, and HP gilts (P < 0.001). From insemination to 109 dpc, BW gain was least in LP (42.1 kg), intermediate in HP (63.1 kg), and greatest in AP gilts (68.3 kg), whereas increase of backfat thickness was least in gilts fed the HP diet compared with LP and AP diets (3.8, 5.1, 5.0 mm; P = 0.01). Litter size, % stillborn piglets, and mummies were unaffected (P > 0.28) by the gestation diet. Total litter weight tended to be less in the offspring of LP and HP gilts (14.67, 13.77 vs. 15.96 kg; P = 0.07), and the percentage of male piglets was greater in litters of HP gilts (59.4%; P < 0.01). In piglets originating from LP and HP gilts, individual birth weight was less (1.20, 1.21 vs. 1.40 kg; P = 0.001) and birth weight/crown-rump length ratio was reduced (45.3, 46.4 vs. 50.7 g/cm; P = 0.003). Colostrum fat (7.8, 7.4 vs. 8.1%) and lactose concentrations (2.2, 2.1 vs. 2.6%) tended to be reduced in LP and HP gilts (P = 0.10). In Exp. 2, 28 gilts (LP, 10; AP, 9; HP, 9) were treated as in Exp. 1 but slaughtered at 64 dpc. At 64 dpc, LP gilts were 7% lighter than AP gilts (P = 0.03), whereas HP gilts were similar to AP gilts. Body composition was markedly altered in response to LP and HP feeding with less lean (P < 0.01) and greater fat content (P = 0.02 to 0.04) in LP and less fat content (P = 0.02 to 0.04) in HP gilts. Fetal litter weight and number, and embryonic survival at 64 dpc were not affected by the diets. These results indicated that gestation diets containing protein at 50 and 250% of recommendations and differing in protein:carbohydrate ratio led to marked changes in protein and fat metabolism in gilts resulting in fetal growth retardation of 15%, which mainly occurred during the second half of gestation.

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