Background: The protein/energy ratio is important for the production performance and utilization of available feed resources by animals. Increased protein consumption by mammals leads to elevated feed costs and increased nitrogen release into the environment. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of dietary protein/energy ratio on the growth performance, carcass traits, meat quality, and plasma metabolites of pigs of different genotypes. Methods: Bama mini-pigs and Landrace pigs were randomly assigned to two dietary treatment groups (Chinese conventional diet with low protein/energy ratio or National Research Council diet with high protein/energy ratio; n = 24 per treatment) in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Blood and muscle samples were collected at the end of the nursery, growing, and finishing phases. Results: We observed significant interactions (P < 0.05) between breed and diet for total fat percentage, intramuscular fat (IMF) content, protein content in biceps femoris (BF) muscle, and plasma urea nitrogen (UN) concentration in the nursery phase; for average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), dry matter, IMF content in psoas major (PM) muscle, and plasma total protein and albumin concentrations in the growing phase; and for drip loss and plasma UN concentration in the finishing phase. Breed influenced (P < 0.05) growth performance, carcass traits, and meat quality, but not plasma metabolites. Throughout the trial, Landrace pigs showed significantly higher (P < 0.05) ADG, ADFI, dressing percentage, lean mass rate, and loin-eye area than did Bama mini-pigs, but significantly lower (P < 0.05) feed/gain ratio, fat percentage, backfat thickness, and IMF content. Dietary protein/energy ratio influenced the pH value, chemical composition of BF and PM muscles, and plasma activities of glutamic-pyruvic transaminase and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, and plasma concentration of UN. Conclusions: Compared with Landrace pigs, Bama mini-pigs showed slower growth and lower carcass performance, but had better meat quality. Moreover, unlike Landrace pigs, the dietary protein/energy ratio did not affect the growth performance of Bama mini-pigs. These results suggest that, in swine production, low dietary protein/energy ratio may be useful for reducing feed costs and minimizing the adverse effects of ammonia release into the environment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The present work was jointly supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2012CB124704 and 2013CB127305), and K.C. Wong Education Foundation, Hong Kong.
© 2015 Liu et al.
- Dietary protein/energy ratio
- Growth performance
- Meat quality
- Plasma metabolites