A total of 48, 21-day-old weaned pigs, was used in a 2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments with the factors being diet type (milk liquid replacer vs. dry feed) and l-arginine (ARG) supplementation (0 vs. 6 g ARG/kg) to test the hypothesis that dietary supplementation with ARG would increase performance of pigs after weaning. Pigs were fed the experimental diets for 10 d (days) after weaning and then transitioned over a 3-d period to a dry Phase II diet fed in meal form devoid of supplemental ARG. The study ended at d 21. There were five replicates (pens) per treatment (a total of 12 pigs per treatment). Blood samples were collected from two pigs per replicate on d 7 and 16 of the experiment, and free amino acids (AA) and plasma urea nitrogen (PUN) levels analysed.
Milk-fed pigs outperformed (P<0.001) dry-fed pigs for the first 10 d of the experiment as well as for the total 21-d period. At d 7, milk-fed pigs had higher (P<0.05) levels of most free indispensable and dispensable amino acids in their plasma. In both the milk-fed and dry-fed pigs supplemented with ARG, average daily feed intake (ADFI, P<0.05) and average daily gain (ADG, P<0.05) were increased during the dietary transition period (d 11–14), when pigs were being changed to the Phase II diet. The difference in production in the transition period caused a tendency for ARG-supplemented pigs to eat more feed (P<0.1) and grow faster (P<0.5) over the 21-d experimental period. Pigs supplemented with ARG had higher plasma ARG levels (P<0.05) at d 7 after weaning and lower plasma urea levels (P<0.05) at both d 7 and 16 after weaning.
These data show the benefits of feeding a milk liquid diet as well as of ARG supplementation after weaning on production indices.
A Hernandez, CF Hansen, BP Mullan, JR Pluske, 2009, Animal Feed Science and Technology 154:102–111.