Effects of Glutamine on Growth Performance and Small Intestine Villus Height in Weanling Pigs

2002 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Swine Report. The pigs small intestinal structure and function is altered during the days that follow weaning. As a consequence, the digestive and absorptive capacity of weanling pigs may decrease during this period, and this may be partially responsible for the postweaning growth lag. Additionally, health benefits may be associated with an improved small intestinal structure and function during the early postweaning period. This experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of crystalline glutamine and (or) diet complexity on small intestine villus height and growth performance of 18-day-old pigs. During the 21-day trial, no differences in villus height were observed between pigs fed diets with or without supplemental glutamine or between pigs fed a complex diet or a simple diet. Pigs fed the complex diet had improved (P < 0.01) average daily gain during days 0 to 4, 7 to 14, and 14 to 21. The majority of improvement in average daily gain of pigs fed the complex diet was likely due to the improvement in average daily feed intake; in as much as average daily feed intake was improved (P < 0.05) during days 0 to 4, 4 to 7, 7 to 14, and 14 to 21. Pigs fed the simple diet had improved (P < 0.05) feed efficiency during days 7 to 14 and 14 to 21. Although supplemental glutamine did not improve villus height, it did improve (P < 0.05) feed efficiency during days 14 to 21, regardless of diet complexity. The glutamine-induced improvement in feed efficiency may have been related to other improvements in intestinal structure and function that were not measured in this experiment.