Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE 68 (1990), pp. 372-383. Copyright © 1990 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


The efficacy of the urea dilution technique in estimating the empty body composition of pigs weighing 50 kg was evaluated in three trials using 17 contemporary (Large White x Landrace x Hampshire x Duroc) and 8 Nebraska Gene Pool x contemporary pigs. Blood samples were collected via ear catheter before infusion (-60, -30 and 0 min) and at various times (3 to 90 min) after urea infusion (2.16 mmol/kg live BW), and analyzed for plasma urea. Backfat thickness of live pigs from the contemporary line was measured ultrasonically. Pigs then were killed by euthanasic injection. and total bodies (with gastrointestinal contents removed) were analyzed for water, protein and fat. In Trials 1 and 2, there were linear relationships (P c .OOl) between chemically determined body water and fat and between body water and protein. Urea space was related (P c .OS) to empty body components with few exceptions, but regression coefficients for urea space in Trial 3 were different from those of Trials 1 and 2. Inclusion of additional independent variables with urea space improved estimation of empty body components. Although backfat alone did not estimate empty body components (except fat) as well as urea space alone, the addition of other common independent variables resulted in better estimates using backfat than urea space. The results of this experiment indicate that the urea dilution technique can be used to estimate the body composition of growing pigs. However, the accuracy obtained depended on the population of pigs being investigated and was no greater than the accuracy with appropriate equations based on backfat.