Effect of magnesium sulphate and L-tryptophan and genotype on the feed intake, behaviour and meat quality of pigs

Sixty-nine entire male pigs with different halothane genotype (homozygous halothane positive – nn-, n=36; and homozygous halothane negative – NN-, n=33) were fed with a supplementation of magnesium sulphate (Mg) and/or L-tryptophan (Trp) in the diet for 5 days before slaughter. Animals were housed individually and were submitted to stressful ante mortem conditions (mixed in the lorry according to treatments and transported 1h on rough roads). Individual feed intake was recorded during the 5-day treatment. At the abattoir, pig behaviour was assessed in the raceway to the stunning system and during the stunning period by exposure to CO2. Muscle pH, colour, water holding capacity, texture and cathepsin activities were determined to assess meat quality. The number of pigs with an individual feed intake lower than 2kg/day was significantly different among diets (P<0.05; Control: 8.7%; Mg&Trp: 43.5%; Trp: 17.4%) and they were considered to have inadequate supplement intake. During the ante mortem period, 15.2% of pigs included in the experiment died, and this percentage decreased to 8.7% in those pigs with a feed intake > 2kg/day, all of them from the stress-sensitive pigs (nn). In general, no differences were observed in the behaviour of pigs along the corridor leading to the stunning system and inside the CO2 stunning system. During the stunning procedure, Trp diet showed shorter periods of muscular excitation than control and Mg&Trp diets. The combination of a stressful ante mortem treatment and Mg&Trp supplementation led to carcasses with high incidence of severe skin lesions. Different meat quality results were found when considering all pigs or considering only those with adequate supplement intake. In this later case, Trp increased pH45 (6.15) vs Control diet (5.96) in the Longissimus thoracis (LT) muscle (P<0.05) and pH at 24h (Trp: 5.59 vs C: 5.47) led to a higher incidence of dark, firm and dry (DFD) traits in SM muscle (P<0.05). Genotype affected negatively all the meat quality traits. Seventy-five percent of LT and 60.0% of the SM muscles from nn pigs were classified as pale, soft and exudative (PSE), while none of the NN pigs showed these traits (P<0.0001). No significant differences were found between genotypes on the incidence of DFD meat. Due to the negative effects observed in the Mg&Trp group in feed intake and carcass quality, the utilization of a mixture of magnesium sulphate and tryptophan is not recommended ​
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