New Study Evaluates Impact of DL-Methionine to Slow Growth

Tyler Treimer, swine manager, weighs hogs during the holding trial involving amino acid imbalances at the Kent Nutrition Group Research Farm. ( Kent Nutrition Group )

Producers are looking for options to slow down growth as the backlog of pigs due to packing plant closures and slowdowns waiting to be harvested grows. A new study of over 400 finishing pigs shows promising results in reducing feed intake and gain, according to a release from the Kent Nutrition Group (KNG).

“When protein and essential amino acid levels are reduced significantly, approximately 30% to 40%, this will also result in reduced feed intake and gain,” says Bob Thaler of South Dakota State University. 

The KNG Research Farm had pigs ready for market, but like most producers, were suddenly faced with the unexpected shutdown of our local packing plant. 

“We thought, ‘What better use of the situation than to investigate ways we can help our customers and the pork industry during this unprecedented market challenge?’” Jim Smith, KNG senior technical swine nutritionist, said in the release.

Smith and Michael Edmonds, KNG vice president of swine and poultry nutrition, teamed with industry partners to design a research trial to explore options for holding or reducing weight gain until processing space becomes available. 

“During our discussions, I remembered a 1987 swine research project with Dr. David H. Baker where we created an amino acid imbalance,” Edmonds said in the release. “The study results showed a significant decrease in growth caused by a decrease in feed intake when we added the amino acid DL-Methionine.”

The team decided to build on this research and compared various levels of DL-Methionine in the diet. They evaluated six treatments using a standard ration as the control and other diets containing various levels of DL-Methionine in low protein or corn rations. 

The hogs were weighed at six days, showing a significant reduction in feed intake and little to no weight gain, the release said. From day six to 10, DL-Methionine levels were reduced to approximately 20% of the initial levels in the corn and low protein diets. At 10 days, the pigs had gained five pounds per head with relatively low cost per pig per day.

“The pork industry is facing unique marketing challenges now, and the beauty of intermediate data from this study is we have multiple options for diets to fit most situations,” Smith said in the release. “Whether a producer needs to hold a 320-pound pig or slow down a 240-pound pig, we can adjust the levels of DL-Methionine to fit that operation.”

This trial showed various diets using high levels of DL-Methionine created different patterns of growth, which should help swine producers manage market hog ending weights during this time, the release said. KNG said the trial will continue until pork processors have space to receive their pigs. 

Thaler pointed out in “5 Ways to Slow Down Pig Growth,” that when changing the inclusion of ingredients, producers should look at the level of essential minerals in the diet, too. They may need to increase mineral supplementation to meet the animal’s requirements.

Specific trial diets and results can be referenced in the KNG Nutrition Note, Evaluation of Amino Acid Imbalances in Reducing Growth Rate and Feed Intakes in Late Finishing Pigs. 

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