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Fattening and slaughtering performance of growing pigs consuming high levels of alfalfa silage (Medicago sativa) in organic pig production

Wüstholz, Jessica, Carrasco, Salomé, Berger, Ulrich, Sundrum, Albert, Bellof, Gerhard
Livestock science 2017 v.200 pp. 46-52
Duroc, German Landrace, Large White, Medicago sativa, Pietrain, alfalfa, alfalfa silage, body weight, carcass characteristics, feed intake, finishing, gender, guidelines, liveweight gain, organic foods, organic production, protein sources, slaughter, swine, swine production
A key objective of organic pig production is the use of feedstuffs originating entirely from organic and also, if possible, from in house or local production, respectively. However, the supply of protein for the organic pig production so far has not been achieved. Additionally, the European guidelines for organic livestock include a daily offer of roughage for pigs. Young harvested and possibly additionally macerated alfalfa (Medicago sativa), conserved as silage, can be used as a protein source as well as roughage. The potential of alfalfa silage as feedstuff was examined in a feeding trial: 3 feeding groups x 2 gender x 6 repetitions (2 animals/repetition) with 36 fattening pigs crossbred: (Duroc x Pietrain) x (German Landrace x Large White), initial body weight: 29kg. The control group (A) was fed with a complete feed mixture and the silage groups (B and C) were fed with a supplementary feed mixture (adjusted to the alfalfa silage). Group B and C received alfalfa silage as chopped (B) and as extruded (C) ad libitum. Animals were slaughtered at 100–105kg live weight. Feed intake, fattening performance and carcass characteristics were determined. The proportion of alfalfa silage in the total daily DM ration of the experimental groups was ~ 20% in the starter phase, ~ 40% in the grower phase and up to 50% in the finishing phase. In this way, approximately 100kg of concentrated feed per pig and fattening period could be saved in comparison to the control group. Fattening performance and carcass characteristics of the silage groups (groups B and C) did not significantly differ from those of the pigs in control group (A), which was served concentrated feed only. However, the daily gain of all feeding groups (an average of 600g) was at a relatively low level. Young harvested alfalfa can be an appropriate regional protein source and additionally a possible roughage for organically fattening pigs.