Use of nonprotein nitrogen in pigs: effects of dietary urea on the intestinal microflora

Am J Vet Res. 1985 Apr;46(4):959-62.


The fecal flora of 2 pigs given an optimal protein diet (digestive crude protein, 13.3%) with 2% urea, 2 pigs given a low protein diet (digestive crude protein, 5.7%) with 2% urea, and 2 pigs given a low protein diet only were bacteriologically investigated before feeding of each diet and on feeding days 21 and 38. The addition of urea to a low protein diet was significantly decreased Lactobacillus (P less than 0.001), Bacteroidaceae (P less than 0.01), Peptococcaceae (P less than 0.05), and Megasphaera (P less than 0.01) in the feces. In addition, there was a marked suppression of anaerobic curved rods (mainly Selenomonas) to undetectable amounts in the feces. A significant reduction (P less than 0.01) of Bifidobacterium and a marked suppression of Megasphaera to undetectable amounts were observed in the feces of pigs given low protein diets without urea. Microbial groups in the ileum and colon of pigs on feeding day 38 were also analyzed. Effects of dietary urea on the intestinal flora included: (i) anaerobic curved rods and spiral rods were restricted mainly to the colon, (ii) smaller numbers of yeasts were present in the intestine, and (iii) Bacteroidaceae, Peptococcaceae, and Eubacterium in the colon were not changed. Many anaerobic isolates, including curved rods and spiral rods, in the colon of pigs may have an important role in urea use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Dietary Proteins* / administration & dosage
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Food, Fortified
  • Ileum / microbiology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Male
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine / microbiology*
  • Urea* / administration & dosage


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Urea