Martin Nyachoti, PhD
Department of Animal Science
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
An important goal in commercial pork production is to efficiently convert dietary nutrients to growth and development of the most economically valuable pork products. Therefore, the way in which pigs partition the dietary energy and nutrients they consume towards different functions and the factors that influence this relationship is an important consideration. Various studies have shown that when pigs are immunologically challenged, priority for energy and nutrient utilization is directed towards supporting the immune system at the expense of growth. This means that to maintain optimal performance when pigs are raised under less than ideal conditions or experiencing a disease challenge, dietary provisions may have to be adjusted to account for the increased needs to support the immune system. Indeed, recent studies have demonstrated that pigs raised under unsanitary conditions, which leads to a general immune system stimulation, have higher requirements for energy and amino acids, especially for those amino acids (i.e. methionine, threonine, and tryptophan) that are involved in the immune system and in the maintenance of gut integrity. Using data from such studies, a case for tweaking dietary provisions for pigs raised under challenging conditions will be presented.