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  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

Balancing Dietary Amino Acids with Energy Improves Pig Growth During a Respiratory Virus

Pigs of all ages can be susceptible to the porcine respiratory virus PRRS, but researchers are trying to find ways to reduce the effects of the virus
Photo: National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

Dr. Nicholas Gabler, Professor of Swine Nutrition in the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University, was part of a research team that studied how adjusting the amino acids pigs' consume and their energy can help with growth when fighting a respiratory virus. The major research findings of their studies are detailed below.

Major Finding of the Studies

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a common viral disease that affects U.S. pigs and reduces how much they eat and grow. Swine researchers who performed these two studies wanted to understand if changing the lysine:metabolizable energy ratio (LMER) in the diet of pigs with PRRS could help the pigs stay on the right growth track for their health and wellbeing.

Balancing energy with lysine – a key amino acid component of protein – is crucial for muscle growth in pigs. This research study found health-challenged pigs eat enough to fulfill their energy needs, but increasing the ratio of LMER formulations by 10%-20% above typical requirements improved performance and feed efficiency when pigs were facing PRRS.


Why It Matters

Feeding health-compromised pigs requires attention to nutrient and energy diet specifications to ensure pigs receive the nutrients they need for proper recovery. This research provided research-based nutritional strategies to help pigs facing a disease challenge.

The LMER is a nutritional concept typically used in swine diets to optimize the balance between lysine (an essential amino acid) and metabolizable energy. This ratio is important because it helps ensure that pigs receive adequate lysine relative to their energy requirements.

This study determined how to treat pigs facing an illness by utilizing a common industry nutrition concept, providing farmers with a tool to help pigs recover and maintain their quality of life as researchers continue to search for PRRS solutions.


How the Research Was Conducted

The first study in the research project involved 768 pigs, each fed one of six diets representing 80% to 130% of the National Research Council’s LMER requirements during a 49-day growth study. In another study, pigs were fed diets with varying LMER of 100% (in the control group), 120% achieved by increasing Lysine, or 120% achieved by reducing energy. Pigs were challenged with PRRS virus, and researchers calculated pig growth and feed efficiency throughout the study.


Learn More

To learn more about these studies, further details on how they were conducted, and the implications of the findings on could have on the pork industry and the meat you consume, read the first article published in 2019 and the second article published in 2020.

Balancing Dietary Amino Acids with Energy Improves Pig Growth During a Respiratory Virus
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