Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #405953

Research Project: Reducing Production Losses due to Oxidative Stress and Bacterial Pathogens in Swine

Location: Agroecosystems Management Research

Title: Water- and feed-based arginine impacts on gut integrity in weanling pigs

item GREINER, LAURA - Iowa State University
item HUMPHREY, DALTON - Iowa State University
item Kerr, Brian
item BECKER, SPENCER - Iowa State University
item BREUER, SOPHIA - Iowa State University
item HAGEN, CHOLE - Iowa State University
item ELEFSON, SARAH - Iowa State University
item HAYDON, KEITH - Cj America

Submitted to: Translational Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/2/2023
Publication Date: 7/1/2023
Citation: Greiner, L., Humphrey, D., Kerr, B.J., Becker, S., Breuer, S., Hagen, C., Elefson, S., Haydon, K. 2023. Water- and feed-based arginine impacts on gut integrity in weanling pigs. Translational Animal Science. 7. Article txad059.

Interpretive Summary: The weaning process for piglets is a stressful event and can dramatically affect intestinal function. One nutritional strategy that has been suggested to reduce the negative effect of weaning on intestinal function is supplying additional amounts of the amino acid arginine because of its association with stimulating protein synthesis in the intestine. The current study was designed to determine if supplemental arginine, either in the water, feed, or both, would improve intestinal function and growth in nursery pigs. Data from this study indicated that pig performance could be improved with additional feed-based arginine, but intestinal morphology was not affected. In contrast, the use of arginine in the water resulted in an improvement in intestinal morphology, but did not affect pig performance. This information shows that water-based arginine may be effective in reducing the impact of weaning on gastrointestinal function and is a potential nutritional tool for nutritionists at swine production facilities to reducing the impact of weaning on intestinal function.

Technical Abstract: Two hundred and forty newly weaned pigs (PIC, Hendersonville, TN) were used to determine if supplementing additional arginine (Arg) either in the water or in the feed, and the combinations thereof, improved intestinal integrity and growth performance in nursery pigs. Each of the 80 pens contained 3 pigs (21 ± 2 days of age) which were randomly allotted to treatments in 4 x 3 factorial arrangement consisting of four water treatments (0, 4, 8, and 12% Arg stock delivered through a 1:128 medication delivery system) in combination with 3 dietary Arg treatments (1.35, 1.55 and 1.75% standardized ileal digestible Arg; SID). Pigs and feeders were weighed at the d0, d6 (water and diet change), d20 (diet change), and d41 for the calculation of average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), and feed efficiency (G:F). Eighty pigs, 1 pig/pen, were euthanized at d6 for ileum evaluation of villus height and crypt depth. The remaining pigs were taken off the Arg-water treatment and fed phase-2 diets formulated to contain 1.35, 1.55, and 1.75% SID Arg. All pigs received a common diet from d 20 to d41. Data were analyzed by pen as repeated measures (SAS 9.4). No interaction between water- and dietary- Arg were detected on nursery pig growth performance. There was a significant quadratic effect of SID Arg in the feed on pig final body weight (BW), ADG, ADFI, and G:F (P = 0.037), where feeding 1.55% dietary Arg tended to improve growth performance compared to the 1.35% level for the 41 days of the trial (P = 0.088). The use of the stock 8% Arg in the water resulted in a reduction in crypt depth (0: 132.5, 4: 140.7, 8: 117.3, 12: 132.0; P = 0.01) and an improvement in intestinal permeability. The 4% oral Arg significantly reduced villous height:crypt depth ratio (0: 2.50, 4: 2.09, 8: 2.56, 12: 2.43; P = 0.02). In conclusion, the feeding of 1.55% Arg resulted in an improvement in nursery pig ADG, ADFI, G:F, and final BW but did not alter intestinal villi morphology; however, the use of Arg in the water resulted in an improvement in intestinal villi, but no phenotypical change in piglet growth in the nursery.