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Effects of dietary glutamine on sow and litter performance and nursery pig performance and intestine growth

Steven James Kitt, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


There are marked changes in the gastrointestinal structure and function of pigs after weaning. Specifically, villous (absorption cells) atrophy and crypt (cells that replace villous cells) hyperplasia occur following weaning. This change in growth of the small intestine is generally associated with a decrease in digestive and absorptive capacity and vulnerable to environments stresses. ^ Therefore, nutrients that improve the growth stasis and intestinal degeneration after weaning may be important in the diet during or after weaning. Glutamine has been proposed to be the primary substrate to promote intestinal growth. It was hypothesized that glutamine may improve the growth performance via improving the intestinal function and (or) immune response after weaning. Three experiments were designed test our hypothesis via providing glutamine (considered a dietary nonessential amino acid) to the weaned pig. Experiment 1 involved feeding a low concentration of glutamine in two diet types. Pigs exhibited slightly better efficiency of gain during d 14 to 21 after weaning. Experiment 2 was designed by using all purified ingredients to discern whether glutamine is important after an imposed immune challenge. Pigs fed glutamine after an immune challenge maintained their feed intake, weight gain, efficiency of gain, and intestinal growth compared to non-immune challenged pigs. Experiment 3 was designed to make a practical approach to feeding glutamine to weanling pigs. Sows were fed increased glutamine, milk was sampled and contained greater glutamine than controls. However, growth performance was slightly less in progeny from sows fed glutamine than controls. However, intestinal growth (villus height) was greater in pigs fed glutamine. Taken together, these data suggest that glutamine is an important dietary nutrient during an immune challenge, but feeding glutamine prior to an immune challenge via sow milk may be detrimental for overall body growth. ^

Subject Area

Agriculture, Animal Culture and Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Kitt, Steven James, "Effects of dietary glutamine on sow and litter performance and nursery pig performance and intestine growth" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092564.