Although the effects of pig genotype on total-tract apparent digestibility (TTAD) have been widely reported in the literature, there is controversial information on the digestive capacity of indigenous breeds compared with lean-type pigs. The strategy of this study was to test the effects of pig genotype and crude protein (CP) supply on performance, digestive utilization of nutrients, relative organ weight and morphometric analysis of the small intestine.
Thirty-eight Iberian (IB) and Landrace × Large White (LD) pigs were used. Three pigs per genotype were slaughtered at approximately 15 kg BW. The remaining pigs were fed one of two diets differing in CP content (13% or 17% as fed) using a pair-fed procedure. Feeding level was restricted at 0.8 × ad libitum of IB pigs. Nutrient digestibility and nitrogen (N) balance trials were performed at 30 and 80 kg BW. Four pigs per dietary treatment and genotype were slaughtered at approximately 50 and 115 kg BW. The gastrointestinal tract and the rest of the visceral organs were weighed and samples of the small intestine were taken to carry out histological and histometrical studies.
Daily gain and gain-to-feed ratio were higher in LD than in IB pigs during the fattening and growing–fattening periods (P < 0.01). N TTAD was significantly higher for LD pigs at 30 kg BW (P < 0.05), whereas at 80 kg BW we observed greater values for digestibility of organic matter and energy in IB pigs (averaging 1.5%, P < 0.01). Both N retention (NR) and efficiency of NR were increased in LD pigs at 30 and 80 kg BW (30% as mean value). The proportional weight of the small intestine was greater in LD than in IB pigs at 50 and 115 kg BW. Histometry showed that IB presented a lower muscle layer thickness than LD pigs in ileum, irrespective of the BW (P < 0.05). In contrast, LD pigs showed approximately 10% higher ileal villi length and villi-to-crypt ratio than IB pigs at 115 kg BW. CP supply affected to a larger extent the small intestinal micro-anatomical structure of LD pigs at 50 kg BW.
In conclusion, our results suggests that although the higher growth rate, NR and efficiency of NR observed in LD pigs might be associated with presumably more efficient structural aspects of the small intestine, the main differences between the two genotypes should be attributed to a larger extent to protein and energy utilization in tissues with consequences for the overall efficiency of energy use.
R. Barea, R. Nieto, F. Vitari, C. Domeneghini and J. F. Aguilera. Effects of pig genotype (Iberian v. Landrace × Large White) on nutrient digestibility, relative organ weight and small intestine structure at two stages of growth. animal (2011), 5: 547-557.