In order to reduce dietary nitrogen and achieve an efficient protein deposition as well as decrease N wastage, we challenged the nutrient utilization efficiency of two different producing types in front of a dietary crude protein (CP) restriction and studied the role of the microbiota in such an adaptation process. Therefore, 32 pure castrated male Duroc (DU) and 32 entire male hybrid (F2) piglets were raised in a three-phase feeding regime. At each phase, two iso caloric diets differing in CP content, also known as normal protein (NP) and low protein (LP), were fed to the animals. LP diets had a fixed restriction (2%) in CP content in regards to NP ones throughout the phases of the experiment. At the end of third phase, fecal samples were collected for microbiota analysis purposes and greenhouse gases emissions, together with ammonia, were tested. No changes were found in average daily feed intake (ADFI) of animals of two producing types (Duroc vs. F2) or those consumed different experimental diets (NP vs. LP) throughout the course of study. However, at the end of each experimental phase the average body weight (BW) of hybrid animals were higher compared to Duroc pigs, whereas a reverse trend was observed for average daily gain (ADG), where Duroc pigs showed greater values with respect to hybrid ones. Despite, greater CH4 and ammonia emissions in Duroc pigs with respect to F2, no significant differences were found in contaminant gases emissions between diets. Moreover, LP diets did not alter the microbial community structure, in terms of diversity, although some genera were affected by the dietary challenge. Results suggest that the impact of reducing 2% of CP content was limited for reduction in contaminant gases emissions and highlight the hypothesis that moderate change in the dietary protein levels can be overcome by long-term adaptation of the gut microbiota. Overall, the influence of the producing type on performance and digestive microbiota composition was more pronounced than the dietary effect. However, both producing types responded differently to CP restriction. The use of fecal microbiota as biomarker for predicting feed efficiency has a great potential that should be completed with robust predictive models to achieve consistent and valid results.
Keywords: dietary crude protein; greenhouse gases; growing pigs; microbiota; total tract digestibility.