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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 53(8)

Interactions between weaning age, weaning weight, sex, and enzyme supplementation on growth performance of pigs

F. R. Dunshea, D. K. Kerton, P. D. Cranwell, R. G. Campbell, B. P. Mullan, R. H. King and J. R. Pluske

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 53(8) 939 - 945
Published: 19 August 2002


Digestive capacity of early-weaned pigs may be insufficient to fully digest many ingredients currently used in weaner diets. The aim of this experiment was to determine whether an exogenous enzyme preparation with broad carbohydrase activity could benefit pigs that developmentally might be immature at weaning, especially with regard to gastrointestinal development. Eighty Large White × Landrace pigs were used in a 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 factorial experiment with the factors being: weaning age (14 or 24 days), weaning weight (heavy or light), sex (boar or gilt), and dietary Biofeed Plus CT (0 or 500 μg/g) which contained fungal xylanases, pentosanases and β-glucanases. Pigs were housed individually and given a wheat-based (550 g/kg) diet containing 15.0 MJ DE and 15.9 g lysine/kg on an ad libitum basis for 21 days. The diet also contained 50 g/kg of soybean meal and 50 g/kg of lupin (Lupinus¬†angustifolius) kernels. The liveweights of heavy (H) pigs weaned at 24 or 14 days and light pigs (L) weaned at 24 or 14 days were 7.9 and 5.3 and 5.2 and 3.9 kg, respectively. Pigs weaned at 14 days grew slower (157 v. 345 g/day) than those weaned at 24 days, although there was a suggestion of an interaction between age and weight at weaning (P = 0.081). Thus, H and L pigs weaned at 14 days grew at 148 and 166 g/day, whereas H and L pigs weaned at 24 days grew at 374 and 315 g/day, respectively. Although there was no main effect of enzymes on daily gain (248 v. 254 g/day, P = 0.80), feed intake (278 v. 284 g/day, P = 0.79), or feed conversion ratio (1.19 v. 1.25, P¬†=¬†0.35), there were interactions with weaning age on daily gain (P = 0.050) and feed intake (P = 0.060). Pigs weaned at 14 days grew slower (176 v. 138 g/day) and ate less (206 v. 174 g/day), whereas pigs weaned at 24 days grew faster (321 v. 369 g/day) and ate more (351 v. 394 g/day), when supplemented with enzymes. During the third week after weaning there were interactions between dietary enzymes and sex (P = 0.060) and dietary enzymes and age (P = 0.023) on daily gain. Thus, pigs weaned at 24 days and supplemented with Biofeed Plus CT grew more quickly during the third week (559 v. 460 g/day), whereas the converse was true for pigs weaned at 14 days (286 v. 334 g/day). Also, enzyme-supplemented boars grew better over this period (457 v. 371 g/day), whereas the converse was true for gilts (388 v. 423 g/day). In conclusion, these data clearly indicate that the greatest determinant of post-weaning performance under the present conditions was the age of the pigs at weaning. Dietary enzyme supplementation appeared most efficacious in boars weaned at an older age, although benefits did not become apparent until 2 weeks after weaning.

Keywords: growth, enzymes, pig, weaning.

Full text doi:10.1071/AR01197

© CSIRO 2002

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