Mulberry leaves (Morus alba L.) are composed of high content of bioactive substances, including flavonoids, that have been related to beneficial biological functions, such as a better antioxidant capacity and a higher lipid and glucose metabolism. It was hypothesized that mulberry leaves might improve meat quality of finishing pigs by influencing muscle fiber characteristics and enhancing antioxidant capacity. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of dietary mulberry leaves powder (MLP) supplementation on the growth performance, carcass characteristics and antioxidant capacity of finisher pigs. For this purpose, a total of 40 Duroc × Landrace × Yorkshire pigs with an initial body weight of 40.5 ± 0.63 kg were randomly allotted into two treatments: a control group fed with a basal diet and a supplemented group fed with the experimental diet, which consisted on a 15% MLP supplementation at the expense of wheat bran. Pigs were offered fresh water and ad libitum feed for a trial period of 85 days. Feed intake was recorded daily, while blood samples and meat quality measurements were taken at the end of the experiment.
MLP diet showed a decreased average daily gain (ADG) and an increased feed to gain ratio (F/G) both in the finishing and in the whole period. MLP diet also showed a decreased carcass weight, dressing percentage, last rib and average backfat depth. However, MLP diet increased intramuscular fat (IMF) content, decreased shear force, cooking loss and drip loss. In addition, MLP diet increased total antioxidative capacity, glutathione peroxidase and tended to increase total superoxide dismutase in serum. In longissimus thoracis, myosin heavy chain (MyHC) I and IIa mRNA levels were increased for MLP diet.
In conclusion, supplementing finisher pig diets with 15% MLP reduced the growth performance and carcass traits, but improved meat quality traits, possibly through the change of the myofiber characteristics, the enhancement of antioxidative capacity or the increase of intramuscular fat.
Zhu, Z. E. N. G., Jiang, J. J., Jie, Y. U., Mao, X. B., Bing, Y. U., Chen, D. W. (2019). Effect of dietary supplementation with mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves on the growth performance, meat quality and antioxidative capacity of finishing pigs. Journal of integrative agriculture, 18(1), 143-151. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-3119(18)62072-6