Diet complexity and L-threonine supplementation: effects on nutrient digestibility, nitrogen and energy balance, and body composition in nursery pigs
This study was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary complexity and L-Thr supplementation on energy and nutrient utilization in nursery pigs. Thirty-two nursery pigs (7.23 ± 0.48 kg) were randomly assigned to a 2 × 2 factorial treatment arrangement based on diet complexity (complex vs. simple) with different levels of L-Thr supplementation. The complex diet contained animal protein sources (e.g., fish meal and plasma) and a dairy product (e.g., dried whey) to mimic a conventional nursery diet. The simple diet was formulated with corn, wheat, and soybean meal. Both diets were supplemented with L-Thr to contain either 100% or 115% (SUP Thr) of the estimated standardized ileal digestible Thr requirement for 9 kg body weight pigs (NRC, 2012). The pigs were individually housed in metabolism crates and fed an experimental diet ad libitum for a 7-d adaptation period and 5 d of total but separate urine and fecal collection. On day 14, all pigs were euthanized to determine body composition. The diet complexity, L-Thr supplementation, and their interactions were considered main effects. Pigs fed the complex diet tended to exhibit greater (P < 0.10) apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of ash and urinary energy output than those fed the simple diet. The complex diet had greater (P < 0.05) digestible energy and net energy contents than the simple diet. Furthermore, the complex diet-fed pigs had lower (P < 0.05) plasma urea nitrogen concentration on day 14 than simple diet-fed pigs. The SUP Thr decreased (P < 0.05) ATTD of acid detergent fiber but trended (P < 0.10) toward a decrease in urinary nitrogen (N) output and an increase in N retention and body N mass. In conclusion, the simple diet for nursery pigs had lower digestible and net energy contents than a complex diet. The SUP Thr can improve N utilization and body protein deposition, irrespective of diet complexity.