Growth performance and intestinal morphology responses in early weaned pigs to supplementation of antibiotic-free diets with an organic copper complex and spray-dried plasma protein in sanitary and nonsanitary environments.
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The objective of this study was to determine the effects of addition of spray-dried plasma protein (SDPP) and Cu to nonmedicated diets on growth performance and intestinal morphology in weaned pigs reared in sanitary or nonsanitary environments. Weanling pigs (n = 192, 18 +/- 2 d of age, 6.0 +/- 0.2 kg of BW) were assigned to 8 treatments arranged factorially, including 2 dietary levels of SDPP (0 or 6% for the initial 10 d), 2 levels of added dietary Cu (0 or 200 ppm for the entire 35-d experiment), and 2 pen sanitation conditions (sanitized or nonsanitized before pig placement). The nonsanitary pen condition was created by 3 applications of swine manure slurry to all pen surfaces in 1 room and not washing or disinfecting. In an identical adjacent room, sanitary pens were washed and disinfected before weaning. There were 4 pigs per pen, and feed and water were available ad libitum. Growth performance was determined at the end of each diet formulation phase (d 10, 20, and 35 after weaning). On d 10, 1 pig per pen was euthanized, and cross sections of duodenum, jejunum, and ileum were collected for microscopic assessment of mucosal morphology. During the initial postweaning period, SDPP, and Cu supplementation improved ADG and ADFI (P < 0.001). A trend for an interaction of sanitation x dietary SDPP (P = 0.07) was observed for G:F, with a positive response to the supplement in nonsanitary pens but no response in sanitary pens. There were no interactions of SDPP and Cu for any performance variables (P > 0.30). By d 35, there were no main or interaction effects of treatment on ADG or G:F (P > 0.17). Pen sanitation condition produced morphological effects, with shorter villous length and less crypt depth observed in each intestinal segment for pigs reared in the nonsanitary pens (P < 0.05), but these effects must be considered conditional based on the potential confounding influence of separate nursery rooms. In the duodenum, reduced crypt depth with Cu supplementation (P = 0.01) and a tendency for greater villous length with SDPP supplementation (P = 0.09) were observed. In this study, SDPP and Cu supplementation improved pig growth performance during the initial 10-d postweaning. These modifications to nonmedicated diets acted independently with regard to their impacts on postweaning performance and, therefore, could have additive effects.