Dietary tryptophan effects on plasma and salivary cortisol and meat quality in pigs

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Four experiments were conducted to determine the effects of supplemental Trp on meat quality, plasma and salivary cortisol, and plasma lactate. Experiment 1 was a preliminary study to measure plasma cortisol concentrations in 4 barrows (50 kg of BW) that were snared for 30 s at time 0 min. Pigs were bled at -60, -30, -15, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 min. Plasma cortisol was near maximum 10 min after the pigs were snared. In Exp. 2, 20 barrows (50 kg of BW) were allotted to a basal corn-soybean meal diet or the basal diet with 0.5% supplemental L-Trp for 5 d. After the 5-d feeding period, pigs were snared for 30 s and bled at -10, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 min after snaring. Pigs fed the diet with supplemental Trp had a lower (P < 0.01) mean plasma cortisol than pigs fed the basal diet. Plasma lactate also was decreased (P < 0.07) by supplemental Trp. In Exp. 3, the same pigs and treatments were used as in Exp. 2, but 5 pigs were snared and 15 pigs adjacent to those being snared were bled to determine if pigs are stressed when they are adjacent to pigs being snared. For pigs adjacent to snared pigs, the area under the curve (P < 0.06) and mean for plasma cortisol was lower (P < 0.01) in pigs fed Trp relative to those fed the basal diet. In Exp. 4, 90 barrows (initial BW of 106 kg) were allotted to 6 treatments in a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement. Three diets with Trp (basal diet, basal supplemented with 0.5% Trp for 5 d, or pigs fed the basal diet with a 0.1 g/kg of BW Trp bolus given 2 h before slaughter) were combined with 2 handling methods (minimal and normal handling). Dressing percent, 24-h pH, and 24-h temperature were reduced in the minimally handled pigs (P < 0.10) compared with the normally handled pigs. Pigs fed Trp in the diet relative to those fed the basal diet had increased 45-min temperature, Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (CIE) redness (a*) and yellowness (b*) values, and drip and total losses (P < 0.10). Tryptophan in bolus form decreased 45-min pH in the minimally handled pigs but increased 45-min pH in the normally handled pigs (handling × Trp bolus interaction, P = 0.08). Tryptophan in the diet increased CIE lightness (L*) in minimally handled pigs but decreased CIE L* in the normally handled pigs (handling × Trp diet interaction, P = 06). No other response variables were affected by handling method or Trp. Results indicate that Trp decreases plasma cortisol but has no positive effect on meat quality. ©2006 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Animal Science

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