Split-sex feeding in the grow-finish period of swine production was an innovative technology of the last decade because of the different growth rates, feed efficiencies, and perhaps different nutrient needs between gilts and barrows. However, due to various weaning strategies, split-sex feeding has not been adequately evaluated in the nursery. The objectives of our research were to determine 1) if gilts and barrows responded similarly to increased protein (Lys) after weaning, and 2) if the current NRC estimated requirements for Lys are adequate. Six experiment stations (KS, KY, MI, MN, OH, and SD) utilized 748 pigs (6.7 kg of BW; 19.4 ± 1.1 d of age). The pigs were allotted to 4 treatments in 32 replications (5 to 7 pigs/pen) in a randomized complete block design. Barrows and gilts were penned separately, and complex nursery diets were fed in 3 phases (d 1 to 7, 8 to 21, and 22 to 35). Lysine was provided at the NRC estimated requirements or at 0.20% greater (1.35 vs. 1.55%, 1.25 vs. 1.45%, and 1.15 vs. 1.35% for the 3 phases, respectively). Pigs and feed were weighed initially and at the end of each phase. The results demonstrated that sex did not affect ADG, ADFI, or G:F in any phase or during the 35-d study (453 vs. 452 g/d, 674 vs. 675 g/d, and 0.673 vs. 0.671 for barrows and gilts, respectively). The greater Lys concentration improved ADG in phase 3 (628 vs. 589 g; P < 0.001) and overall (465 vs. 441 g; P < 0.001) compared with pigs fed the NRC-estimated Lys requirements. Increased Lys in the diet increased ADFI in phase 2 (P < 0.05), but not in the other phases or for the overall 35-d study. Gain:feed was improved by feeding greater Lys concentrations in phase 2 (0.785 vs. 0.704; P < 0.001) and in the overall 35-d experiment (0.695 vs. 0.649; P < 0.001). There was no evidence of a sex × Lys interaction (P = 0.33) for any of the response variables during any of the phases or overall. Our results demonstrate that increasing Lys concentrations in nursery diets results in improved pig performance of both sexes, and there appears to be no benefit to split-sex feeding when mixed genotypes are fed in the nursery.
- Nursery pig