Date: 27/05/2019

In Pig Farming, the highest cost of production is represented by food.

This statement, however, ends up resulting in many pig farmers to make a mistake that can be fatal to their business: high money saving through the use of low quality feed. It turns out that pigs have very specific nutritional requirements that, once missed, harm productivity and, consequently, the profitability of the system as a whole.

For higher rates of feed conversion and health maintenance of this type of animal, some basic guidelines of pork nutrition need to be followed. Among them is the need for a balanced consumption of the most diverse types of amino acids to fulfill specific functions in the pig organism.

Such amino acids can be acquired through a diet rich in high digestibility proteins which can be obtained by the ingestion of formulations using ingredients and high quality raw materials.

Considering this, the chicken protein hydrolysate stands out as a rich protein source, which has all the amino acids necessary for the proper development of the pigs.

Also, it has bioactive peptides, produced by the enzymatic hydrolysis process, that promote several health benefits for the piglets. In this post, we will take a closer look at the nutritional needs of pigs regarding protein.

Swine Food: aspects to consider

In pig farming, some feeding rules must be followed in order to maintain the profitability of the business. First, pigs should not feed on pasture alone.  As they are monogastric animals, their organisms are inefficient in digesting the high amount of fibers present in this type of food.

The fibers cause a feeling of satiety, which leads to younger animals not being able to consume the ideal amount of food to obtain the necessary nutrients. The use of a cereal-based diet is preferable instead of pasture due to its high protein content.

For better digestion, cereals should be processed in mills, having particle size close to 0.7 mm. This feature ensures greater access of the gastric enzymes to the proteins at the time of digestion.

It is important to note that not all pigs have the same requirements when it comes to diet. For example, w eaned piglets and growing pigs need a higher content of the amino acid lysine and greater energy intake compared to the swine already developed.

Amino acids: the basis of pork nutrition

Amino acids are the protein-forming units. Necessary for the normal functioning of the organism, they are part of the structure of the muscular tissues and are therefore fundamental for the growth and development of the pigs.

From 21 amino acids in nature, 10 are essential.  That is, they are not produced by the body and must be acquired through diet for the maintenance of health, growth, reproduction and lactation.

They are:

  •  Arginine;
  •  Histidine;
  •  Isoleucine;
  •  Leucine;
  •  Lysine;
  •  Methionine;
  •  Phenylalanine;
  •  Theanine;
  • Tryptophan;
  •  Valina.

The proteins present in corn and cereals are generally deficient in some of these amino acids presented. Therefore, they must be used together so the required balance is achieved.

On the other hand, proteins of animal origin, besides having all the essential amino acids, are highly digested and absorbed by the body of the pigs. Digestibility is also an important factor to consider.

How does digestibility influence pork nutrition?

Soybean meal is a vegetal source that, similar to animal proteins, also has all the essential amino acids. This does not mean that they will all be readily available to the animal’s body. In this type of raw material, the proteins are complexed with the fibers.

Pigs do not have the ability to release proteins from the fibers.

Therefore, this complex will reach the intestine, where it will be fermented by bacteria. This fermentation will result in an accumulation of ammonia and amines, negatively affecting the structure of the intestine and decreasing its digestive and absorptive function.

Although the animal is consuming a food carrier of all essential amino acids, they are not being used by the body. So the proteins contained in the product have low digestibility.

Digestibility can be defined as the proportion of nutrients in a diet that is actually used by the body and is not lost in the animal’s feces.

Because of that, when formulating a feed for swine, the R&D formulator needs to know the digestibility characteristics of the proteins contained in the product.

This way, it is guaranteed that all the amino acids present are capable of being absorbed and used by the body of the animal, without any deficiencies. It’s no use counting on a highly digestible feed if it is not attractive to animals.

How does palatability influence pork nutrition?

Palatability is a concept that encompasses aspects such as taste, aroma and texture of food. That is, how attractive a certain food really is to whoever consumes it.

The pigs have around 19,000 taste buds, 10 thousand more than humans. Therefore, they are extremely sensitive to the sensory characteristics of the feeds.

Thus, formulations for pigs that have a good palatability will be more readily ingested, positively affecting the increase of the feed conversion rate and the development of the animals.

Chicken protein hydrolysate

Chicken Protein Hydrolysate (CPH) is an ingredient that can be used to formulate feeds for pig farming. Already available in the market , CPH is produced with fresh raw material and has low molecular weight, a balanced amino acid profile and high protein content.

Also, this ingredient has excellent digestibility and palatability characteristics. CPH is produced by the enzymatic hydrolysis of meat proteins, viscera and liver of chickens. In that process, the enzymes are added and the hydrolysis is conducted under specific conditions of time, temperature and pH.

At the end of the hydrolysis, the enzymes are inactivated and a centrifugation or filtration step is used to separate insoluble PHF fractions.

Enzymatic hydrolysis is extremely advantageous as it allows the use of mild temperature and pH conditions for the production of PHF. This way, there is no loss of amino acids, resulting in a high quality ingredient.

In this process there is also the generation of bioactive peptides.  These are fragments of amino acid sequences capable of playing biological functions, such as antimicrobial and antioxidant activity.

The efficacy of the hydrolyzed protein in the development of pigs has already been proven.  A study conducted on weaned piglets showed that the addition of 6% hydrolyzed protein to their diet promoted a significant increase in growth compared to piglets that consumed a diet without the addition of this ingredient.

Another advantage of CPH is the use of ingredients from the meat industry for its production, promoting the sustainability of the system, reducing waste generation and adding value to protein sources not consumed by humans.

The use of enzymes also brings great sustainability to the process, since there is no use of toxic reagents, as in the acid and alkaline hydrolysis.


Formulating food for pig nutrition is not an easy task. Aspects such as amino acid profile and digestibility should be taken into account to ensure healthy growth, positively affecting pig farming profitability.

Therefore, the choice of ingredients that will compose this type of formulation should be careful. Chicken Protein Hydrolysate is a very advantageous option that, besides guaranteeing all the nutritional requirements for the pigs, is produced in an ecological way through the use of the enzymatic process.