The Use of Plasma Urea as an Indicator of Protein Status in Growing-Finishing Pigs

2000 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Swine Report. An experiment is being conducted on commercial swine operations to determine if plasma urea concentration can be used as an indicator of protein status in growing-finishing pigs. Swine producers in Eastern Nebraska are being selected to participate in this on-farm study. The experiment includes the completion of a 30-question survey and an on-farm visit for the collection of blood and feed samples. The survey includes questions about genetics, nutrition, housing and health. Preliminary results suggest that crude protein is overfed in most finishing diets. Gilts consistently have lower plasma urea concentrations than barrows when gilts and barrows are fed the same diet during the finishing growth period. This confirms the concept that gilts utilize protein more efficiently for lean growth. These results suggest that within an individual swine operation, plasma urea is a useful indicator of protein status in growing-finishing pigs.