Nitrogen metabolism and growth performance of gilts fed standard corn-soybean meal diets or low-crude protein, amino acid-supplemented diets

J. L. Figueroa, A. J. Lewis, P. S. Miller, R. L. Fischer, R. S. Gómez, R. M. Diedrichsen

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Two experiments were conducted to determine the CP concentration below which N retention and growth performance are reduced when low-protein, amino acid-supplemented, corn-soybean meal diets are fed. In a N balance trial (Exp. 1), 12 gilts (initial weight 41 kg) were fitted with urinary catheters and fed six different diets during three 7-d periods in an incomplete block design. The diets were: 1) 18% CP; 2) 14% CP + AA; 3) 16% CP; 4) 12% CP + AA; 5) 14% CP; and 6) 10% CP + AA. Amino acids (lysine, threonine, tryptophan, and methionine) were supplemented such that the concentrations in the low-protein diets were equal to those in their standard (4% CP higher) counterparts. Nitrogen retention (g/d) decreased (P < 0.01) as CP decreased, in both standard (27.10, 24.53, and 20.99) and low-protein (21.51, 19.18, and 15.83) diets, but was lower (P < 0.01) in low-protein diets. There were no differences among treatments (P > 0.05) in biological value (68.2% standard vs 71.0% low-protein). In a growth performance trial (Exp. 2), 36 gilts (initial weight 19.5 kg) were penned individually and fed one of six diets for 35 d in a randomized complete block design. Dietary treatments were a 16% CP standard diet and low-protein diets formulated to contain 15, 14, 13, 12, and 11% CP supplemented with crystalline lysine, tryptophan, threonine, and methionine to equal the total concentrations in the standard diet. Protein concentration affected (P ≤ 0.05) ADG, ADFI, feed efficiency, fat-free lean gain, longissimus muscle area, plasma urea, and plasma concentrations of most essential AA. For most of these traits, the major difference was poor performance of pigs fed the 11% CP diet. Thus, in Exp. 1, at AA concentrations from deficient to excess, low-protein, amino acid-supplemented diets failed to produce the same N retention as the equivalent corn-soybean meal diets. However in Exp. 2, the same performance was obtained with 16, 15, 14, 13, and 12% CP. Based on these data, we suggest that N balance is more sensitive than growth to amino acid adequacy and that other AA (e.g., isoleucine and valine) may limit growth performance when the protein concentration is reduced by more than four percentage units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2911-2919
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino Acids
  • Growth
  • Nitrogen Balance
  • Pigs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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