More Bacon For Your Buck

Bama mini pigs thrive even on a low protein diet, suggesting that raising indigenous Chinese pigs could reduce feeding costs.

AsianScientist (Oct. 29, 2015) – Indigenous Chinese pigs such as Bama mini pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) are not as affected by changes in diet as much as Western pigs, according to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology. This work suggests that a low protein to energy diet is sufficient to rear Bama mini pigs with good quality meat, a consideration for reducing ammonia release into the environment and cutting feed costs.

Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for 36 percent of the world’s meat intake. To obtain meat of superior quality, pig farmers either use genetic breeding or tweak the contents of pig feed. Often, meat with higher intramuscular fat content is perceived as higher quality due to its flavor. At the same time, farmers try to breed animals with minimal visible fat in order not to deter health conscious consumers.

Many breeds of pigs are available for commercial farming. Bama mini pigs are indigenous to China and display an obese phenotype. Their high intramuscular fat content makes their meat more flavorful compared to Landrace pigs, domesticated pigs imported from the West with a leaner phenotype but faster growth rates.

Although the meat quality and growth between the two breeds of pigs differ, it is not clear if differences in nutrition can influence their growth rates and meat quality.

To investigate if diet influences growth rates and meat quality of the Bama mini pigs and Landrace pigs, Professor Yin Yulong and his team from Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, gave either a Chinese conventional diet (GB diet) or National Research Council diet (NRC diet) to the Bama mini pigs or Landrace pigs. The GB diet has a lower protein to energy ratio compared to NRC diet. They tracked the growth performance of the pigs at different phases, the meat phenotype and chemical composition, and plasma metabolites of the pigs.

They observed that although growth rates were different between the two breeds of pigs, diet did not have a significant effect on the growth performance of the animals. However, Landrace pigs on the GB diet showed an increased carcass length and lean percentage compared to Landrace pigs on NRC diet. Such compensatory growth of bone and muscle might be due to lower nutrition of GB diet. No difference was seen with Bama mini pigs.

As the growth of Bama mini pigs was not affect by high or low protein to energy diet, the authors suggest that this finding may be useful for reducing feed costs and also minimizing the release of ammonia into the environment while rearing the livestock.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2015) Effects of Dietary Protein/Energy Ratio on Growth Performance, Carcass Trait, Meat Quality, and Plasma Metabolites in Pigs of Different Genotypes.


Source: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Ying Ying completed her PhD in neurobiology at the University of Basel, where she studied the role of bone morphogenetic protein in structural plasticity of neurons.

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