Effects of feeding low protein diets to piglets on plasma urea nitrogen, faecal ammonia nitrogen, the incidence of diarrhoea and performance after weaning.Arch Anim Nutr 2008; 62(5):343-58AA
This study evaluated the effects of feeding pigs low protein (LP) diets for different lengths of time after weaning on indices of protein fermentation, the incidence of postweaning diarrhoea (PWD), growth performance, and total-tract apparent digestibility. Sixty weaner pigs weighing 6.1 +/- 0.13 kg (mean +/- SEM) were used in a completely randomised design having five treatments: (i) a high protein diet (HP, 243 g/kg CP) fed for 14 d after weaning (HP14); (ii) a low protein diet (LP, 173 g CP/kg) fed for 5 d after weaning (LP5); (iii) LP diet fed for 7 d after weaning (LP7); (iv) LP diet fed for 10 d after weaning (LP10), and (v) LP diet fed for 14 d after weaning (LP14). All diets were supplemented with lysine, methionine, tryptophan and threonine, with all LP diets additionally fortified with crystalline isoleucine and valine to conform to a proposed ideal amino acid (AA) pattern. A second-stage diet (215 g CP/kg) was fed to pigs at the conclusion of each treatment. None of the diets contained antimicrobial compounds. Feeding a LP diet, regardless of duration of feeding, decreased plasma urea nitrogen (p < 0.001) and faecal ammonia-nitrogen (p < 0.001) contents. Feeding a LP diet, irrespective of feeding duration, decreased the incidence of PWD at day 8 after weaning (p = 0.044), and pigs fed diets LP7, LP010 and LP14 had firmer faeces (p = 0.030, p = 0.047 and p = 0.007, respectively) between days 10 and 12 after weaning. Treatments LP5, LP7, LP10 and LP14 did not reduce (p > 0.05) growth performance up to 106 days after weaning compared to pigs fed the HP diet. Total-tract apparent digestibility of dry matter, energy and crude protein were similar (p > 0.05) between treatments. Our data suggest that feeding a LP diet, supplemented with AA to conform to an ideal AA pattern, for 7-10 days after weaning can reduce PWD in pigs fed antibiotic-free diets without compromising production.