Nitrogen excretion at different stages of growth and its association with production traits in growing pigs

M Shirali, AB Doeschl-Wilson, PW Knap, C-A Duthie, E Kanis, JAM van Arendonk, R Roehe

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The objectives of this study were to determine nitrogen loss at different stages of growth and during the entire growing period and to investigate the associations between nitrogen excretion and production traits in growing pigs. Data from 315 pigs of an F2 population which originated from crossing Pietrain sires with a commercial dam line were used. Nitrogen retention was derived from protein retention as measured using the deuterium dilution technique during different stages of growth (60 to 90 kg, 90 to 120 kg, and 120 to 140 kg). Pigs were fed ad libitum with 2 pelleted diets containing 17% (60 to 90 kg) and 16.5% (90 to 120 and 120 to 140 kg) CP. Average daily nitrogen excretion (ADNE) within each stage of growth was calculated on the basis of the accumulated difference between average daily nitrogen intake (ADNI) and average daily nitrogen retention (ADNR). Least ADNE, nitrogen excretion per BW gain (NEWG) and total nitrogen excretion (TNE) were observed during growth from 60 to 90 kg. In contrast, the greatest ADNE, NEWG, and TNE were found during growth from 120 to 140 kg. Statistical analyses indicated that gender, housing type, the ryanodine receptor 1 (RYR1) gene, and batch infl uenced nitrogen excretion (P < 0.05), but the degree and direction of infl uences differed between growth stages. Gender differences showed that gilts excreted less nitrogen than barrows (P < 0.05), which was associated with decreased feed conversion ratio (FCR; feed:gain) and lipid:protein gain ratio. Single-housed pigs showed reduced nitrogen excretion compared with group-housed pigs (P < 0.05). In comparison to other genotypes, pigs carrying genotype NN (homozygous normal) at the RYR1 locus had the least nitrogen excretion (P < 0.05) at all stages of growth except from 60 to 90 kg. The residual correlations indicated that NEWG and TNE have large positive correlations with FCR (r = 0.99 and 0.91, respectively) and moderate negative correlations with ADG (r = −0.53 and −0.48, respectively), for the entire growing period. Improvement in FCR, increase in ADG and reduction in lipid:protein gain ratio by 1 phenotypic SD reduced TNE per pig by 709 g, 307 g, and 211 g, respectively, over the entire growing period. The results indicate that nitrogen excretion changes substantially during growth, and it can be reduced most effectively by improvement of feed effi ciency and to a lesser extent through the improvement of BW gain or body composition or both.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1756 - 1765
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number6
Publication statusFirst published - 2012

Bibliographical note



  • Body composition
  • Feed efficiency
  • Growth
  • Nitrogen excretion
  • Pigs


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