Nutritional Strategies to Improve Pig Growth and Performance

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Virginia Tech

Many factors influence the efficiency of muscle growth including genetics, nutrition, and environment. The neonatal period is characterized as a time of rapid growth. Growth rate is reduced during neonatal nutrient restriction possibly due to altered satellite cell activity which can permanently alter growth potential. Therefore, optimal nutrition is important for maximizing the growth potential of the animal. Heat stress leads to changes in digestion and metabolism, thus alters nutrient availability to muscle. Heat stress is a prevalent problem in the agriculture industry resulting in great economic losses due to reduced growth, fertility, and increased morbidity. The use of functional feed additives is a potential strategy to mitigate these negative effects. The objective of this dissertation was to investigate nutritional strategies to improve growth in pigs during key malleable periods. Three nutritional studies were conducted to discern the optimal inclusion levels of calcium phosphate, energy, and protein in the diet to maximize neonatal muscle growth. Adequate dietary calcium phosphate was most efficient for satellite cell function which may be mediated by micro-RNA. Differentiation promoting miR-206 and correspondingly the fusion rate was highest in adequate calcium phosphate diets. Excess protein diets enhanced body and muscle growth, while deficient protein was detrimental to growth. Dietary protein treatments altered energy metabolism genes, and genes regulating protein degradation were upregulated in deficient protein diets. Dietary energy levels did not influence body weight, however feed efficiency improved with energy balance. Excess energy diets had the lowest fusion rates and the lowest differentiation promoting miR-1 expression. These data suggest that nutrient inclusion levels are important for satellite cell function and may mediate satellite cell activity through the expression of micro-RNAs. The final study sought to discern the ability of supplementation of an artificial high-intensity sweetener and capsicum oleoresin to mitigate the negative effects of heat stress on pig performance. Heat stress leads to increased body temperature and respiration and was detrimental to metabolic flexibility. Supplementation helped improve feed efficiency and maintain metabolic flexibility. These data indicate that supplementation may be an efficient strategy to mitigate heat stress.

Satellite Cell, Neonatal Nutrition, Calcium and Phosphorous, Energy, Protein, Heat Stress, Artificial Sweetener, Capsicum Oleoresin, Skeletal Muscle