Forty pigs (twenty males and twenty females) were weaned at 4 weeks of age into individual cages, and their weights and feed intakes measured daily. From weaning to 16 kg live weight they were given free access to a feed with either 134 (L) or 278 (H) g crude protein (nitrogen x 6.25)/kg fresh weight. During this period pigs on feed L grew at a slower rate and converted feed less efficiently than pigs on feed H. At 16 kg live weight they were introduced to a 6 d period of feeding when, on succesive days, they were given feeds L, H, L, H, L and H (if previously fed on L) or feeds H, L, H, L, H and L (if previously fed on H). For pigs previously given access to feed L the live-weight gain was 1061 v. 575 g/d on the days when H or L was given; the feed intake was 1078 v. 1027 g/d respectively. For pigs previously given access to feed H, the live-weight gain was 655 v. 610 g/d and the feed intake 844 v. 1071 g/d on the days when H or L were given. The interactions between the feed given previously and the feed given for the 3 d of the subsequent 6 d period were highly significant for both live-weight and feed intake. These rapid changes in feed intake and growth rate suggest that the metabolism of young pigs is extremely flexible, with a rapid rate of response to a change in the protein content of their feed.
- Dietary protein
- Feed intake