Ractopamine hydrochloride (RAC) has been used in the pig production industry for over 30 years. RAC is a beta-adrenergic agonist which is supplemented in the feed during the last 28 days prior to harvesting in finisher pigs to modify the pig's metabolism such that nutrients are redirected to favour muscle accretion rather than adipose deposition, and hence improve growth efficiencies, feed utilisation and carcass revenues. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary ractopamine (Paylean®) supplementation at levels of 0, 5, and 10 mg.kg-1 (hereafter referred to as 0-RAC, 5-RAC, and 10-RAC respectively) on animal growth performance, efficiency and carcass characteristics including daily voluntary feed intake, feed efficiency, absolute daily growth rate (ADG) and daily live weight gain, and backfat thickness for the last 27 days in finishing gilts. In this 27-day study, a homogenous group of 71 grower gilts (LW = 43 ± 1 kg) were pre-selected at a source farm. The gilts were then housed in similar and equally sized group pens at the Hatfield experimental facility of the University of Pretoria and fed a standard maize-soya oilcake based grower ration formulated to contain 0.94% standardised ileal digestible Lys (1.05% total Lys) and 14.01 MJ ME kg-1 during the 28 day pre-adaptation phase. From these gilts, individuals were weighed and 58 gilts selected (average LW = 68.7 ± 4.3 kg), and placed into individual pens and the same diet for 7 days (adaptation phase), afterwhich they were assigned to 1 of 3 treatments in a completely randomized block design with 19, 19, and 20 replicate pens per treatment. The pigs were then fed a standard maize-soya oilcake finisher (treatment) diet containing either 0-RAC, 5-RAC or 10-RAC for 27 d before harvesting. All treatment diets were formulated to contain 1.02% standardised ileal digestible Lys (1.13% total Lys) and 13.96 MJ ME kg-1. Individual pig LW, P2 thickness and pen feed disappearance were recorded weekly to determine LW changes, ADG, ADFI, and G:F. After 27 d on trial, gilts were slaughtered and carcass measurements were recorded at 24 h post-mortem. Overall, RAC supplementation did not affect ADFI or P2 (P > 0.05) but did influence LW (P = 0.049) and overall G:F (P = 0.012) after d27. At d15-d21 and d22-27, only a tendency (P = 0.169, 0.104 respectively) for a linear decrease in G:F with RAC supplementation was found. RAC also affected HCY (P= 0.045) and CCY (P = 0.045) but not fat depth, meat depth or fat % (P > 0.05). These results indicate that RAC may have small but beneficial effects in modern pig production, but further research is required to optimize concentrations and duration of supplementation in modern lean pig genotypes.
Dissertation (MSc (Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2017.