Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 September 2010
Two experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that young growing pigs between 7 and 25 kg live weight are capable of selecting a diet which closely matches their changing requirement for amino acids, when offered a choke between two balanced foods differing only in their protein content. In the first experiment, three single-food treatments (8·6,11·7 and 17·4 g lysine per kg food) and one choice-feeding treatment (8·6 v. 17·4 g lysine per kg food), were used. In the second experiment, three foods of similar nutrient composition (approx. 14·7 g lysine per kg food) were formulated using different ingredients (fish meal, soya-bean oilcake meal and a combination of sunflower-, cottonseed- and groundnut-oilcake meals). These were fed either alone or as a choice with each other or with a low protein food (8·3 g lysine per kg food) to test whether palatability or anti-nutritional factors would override the selection based on protein alone. In both experiments, 10 pigs were housed per pen, with males and females being penned separately. One food bin with a central partition was supplied per pen, and an initial 6-day training period was used, in which pigs experienced each of the two foods on offer, separately, at daily intervals. All pigs were weighed weekly, as was the amount of food consumed in each pen. The conclusions reached were that growing pigs are able to differentiate successfully between two foods on the basis of their amino acid contents, and of changing the selected diet to match their changing requirement for dietary amino acids. However, one of the foods on offer appeared to contain either anti-nutritive factors or unpalatable components, and whereas the piglets performed as well on this as on the other foods of similar nutrient content when these foods were offered as the sole source of food, they actively selected against this food when it was offered as a choice, even if this meant their growing at a significantly slower rate than that of which they were capable.
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