The aim of the study was to determine the optimum protein inclusion level in diets containing an ideal amino acid balance for growing pigs. The performance of commercial crossbred grower-pigs was studied in two trials in which the experimental animals were housed either in commercial-type group housing (experimentl) or in individual pens (experiment 2). Treatments consisted of diets containing 14%, 16%, 18% or 20% crude protein. Lysine, tryptophan, threonine and total sulphur-containing amino acids were included in all diets at levels equivalent to that supplied by the 18% crude protein diet. In experiment one, 144 pigs (72 boars and 72 gilts) of initial mass 30 kg were fed until slaughter at 70 kg. In experiment two, 80 pigs (40 boars and 40 gilts) of live masses ranging from 17.5 to 31.1 kg were fed until slaughter at masses between 64 and 105.5 kg. There were no differences between treatments (p > 0,05) for daily gain, feed conversion ratio, daily intake or carcass classification, but feed conversion ratio differed between sexes in experiment two (p < 0.05). It was concluded that protein inclusion levels in pig growth diets could be decreased from 18% to 14% without any detrimental effect on performance, provided that the digestible essential amino acid composition is adjusted to meet requirements. This practice is however not economically viable for South African pig producers at the prevailing price of synthetic amino acids.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher