Effects of ractopamine on growth performance and carcass characteristics of immunologically and physically castrated barrows and gilts

C. L. Puls, M. Ellis, F. K. McKeith, A. M. Gaines, A. L. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study was performed to evaluate the effect of feeding ractopamine (RAC) to physically castrated barrows (PC), immunologically castrated barrows (IC), and gilts (gilts) using a randomized complete block design with a 3 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments: 1) sex (PC, IC, and gilts) and 2) RAC inclusion level (0, 5, and 7.5 mg/kg). The IC received 2 doses of gonadotropin releasing factor analog–diphtheria toxoid conjugate (Improvest; Zoetis, Kalamazoo, MI) at the start of the study (wk 16 of age; 69.6 ± 2.96 kg BW) and 4 wk later. The study used 180 pigs housed in groups of 4 (5 groups/sex × RAC subclass) and was performed over a fixed time of 61 d with RAC being fed for the final 26 d of study. Diets were formulated to meet requirements of intact males for the first 35 d and of intact males fed 7.5 mg/kg RAC for the remainder of the study. Pigs had ad libitum access to feed and water throughout the study period. At the end of the study, pigs were harvested at a commercial facility and HCW and last rib backfat thickness were measured. There were no treatment interactions (P > 0.05) for any variables. For the overall study period, IC had greater (P ≤ 0.05) overall ADG compared to PC, which grew faster (P ≤ 0.05) than gilts (1,246, 1,083, and 1,025 g/d for IC, PC, and gilts, respectively; SEM = 20.3); ADFI was lower (P ≤ 0.05) for gilts than IC and PC, which had similar ADFI (3.36, 3.37, and 2.87 kg/d, respectively; SEM = 0.051); and G:F was greater (P ≤ 0.05) for IC than gilts and greater for gilts than PC (0.371, 0.322, and 0.358 kg/kg, respectively; SEM = 0.0039). For the period from the second dose to the end of study, IC had greater (P ≤ 0.05) ADG (28.6%), ADFI (12.3%), and G:F (14.3%) than PC. Carcass yield was lower (P ≤ 0.05) for IC compared to PC and gilts (72.8, 75.0, and 74.6%, respectively; SEM = 0.25). Feeding RAC increased (P ≤ 0.05) ADG (15.7 and 14.5% for 5 and 7.5 mg/kg, respectively), G:F (17.1 and 16.4%, respectively), carcass weight (3.7 and 3.2 kg, respectively), and carcass yield (1.0 and 1.0 percentage unit, respectively) compared to the control. These results highlight sex differences in and effects of RACon growth and carcass characteristics and suggest that the relative response to RAC is similar in IC and PC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4725-4732
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Carcass
  • Growth
  • Immunological castration
  • Improvest
  • Pigs
  • Ractopamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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