Influence of a Vegetarian Diet Versus a Diet with Fishmeal on Bone in Growing Pigs


A. LIESEGANGInstitute of Animal Nutrition, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


This study was conducted to examine if substantial bone loss occurs in growing pigs fed a vegetarian diet in comparison with a diet containing fishmeal. Twelve 6-week-old weaned pigs were assigned to two groups: group V [vegetarian diet; 0.61% phosphorus (P) in dry matter until 25 kg and 0.46% P until the end of the experiment] and group F (fishmeal diet; 0.61% P in dry matter until 25 kg and 0.46% P until the end of the experiment). Phytase was added to both diets. These two diets were fed to the two groups for a period of 6 weeks. Blood samples were collected weekly, faeces were collected three times a week. Concentrations of osteocalcin (OC) and carboxyterminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) were measured in serum, using a radioimmunoassay, and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (bAP) was measured using an enzyme immunoassay. Bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC) were determined by peripheral quantitative computer tomography (pQCT) in the tibia and phalanx. In addition, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (VitD) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were measured in serum. The digestibility of P was significantly decreased in group V. Significant changes in bAP activities and OC concentrations occurred with time during the 6 weeks. ICTP concentrations were significantly higher in group V. Total BMC and BMD in the tibia and BMD in the phalanx significantly decreased in group V. The results show that a vegetarian diet induces a significant loss of bone and a higher bone formation in group V compared with group F, although phytase was added to both diets. The dietary requirements for P in pigs, especially in the context of feeding vegetarian diets and adding an appropriate amount of phytase, should be investigated further.