Effects of betaine on growth, carcass characteristics, pork quality, and plasma metabolites of finishing pigs

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An experiment was conducted to determine the effect of dietary betaine (0, 0.125, 0.250, or 0.500%) on growth, carcass traits, pork quality, plasma metabolites, and tissue betaine concentrations of cross-bred finishing pigs. Four replications of three pigs (two barrows and one gilt) each were used for each treatment. The basal diet contained 0.85 (69 to 88 kg BW) or 0.65% Lys (88 to 115 kg BW). Overall ADG and gain:feed were not affected (P > 0.10) by betaine, but overall ADFI was decreased (quadratic, P < 0.05; 0 vs betaine, P < 0.01) by betaine; pigs fed 0.250% betaine had the lowest ADFI. Loin muscle area, average backfat, dressing percentage, percentage lean, total fat, lean:fat, and leaf fat weight were not affected (P > 0.10) by betaine. Tenth-rib backfat thickness was decreased (quadratic, P < 0.05; 0 vs betaine, P < 0.05); pigs fed 0.250% betaine had the lowest 10th-rib backfat thickness. Carcass length was increased (linear, P < 0.05; 0 vs betaine, P < 0.10) as the level of betaine was increased. Fat-free lean, lean gain per day, ham weight, ham fat-free lean, and ham percentage lean were increased (quadratic, P < 0.10), but percentage fat, total ham fat, percentage ham fat, and butt-fat thickness were decreased (quadratic, P < 0.10); these traits were respectively highest or lowest in pigs fed 0.250% betaine. Thaw loss and 24-h pH were increased (quadratic, P < 0.10; 0 vs betaine, P < 0.05) and cook loss was decreased (linear, P < 0.05) in pigs fed betaine. The CIE L* value for the biceps femoris was decreased (quadratic, P < 0.10; 0 vs betaine, P < 0.10); pigs fed 0.250% betaine had the lowest CIE L* value. Subjective color, firmness-wetness, marbling, percentage moisture and bound water of the loin muscle, and shear force were not affected (P > 0.10) by betaine. Betaine was not detectable (< 0.07 mg/g) in the loin muscle of pigs fed 0% betaine, but betaine was detectable and relatively constant in pigs fed 0.125, 0.250, or 0.500% betaine (0.22, 0.17, and 0.21 mg/g, respectively). Plasma urea N, total protein, albumin, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol concentrations were not affected (P > 0.10). Plasma total cholesterol (linear, P < 0.10) and NEFA (quadratic, P < 0.10) were increased in pigs fed betaine. Betaine improved carcass traits when provided at 0.250% of the diet and improved some aspects of pork quality.

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Journal of Animal Science

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