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response of piglets to a bitter taste and its effect on feed intake

category: feed additives

date:february 2019

authors: tedo, g, mereu,a., ipharraguerre, i.r., morais, s.

book/journal:journées recherche porcine, 51, 153-154.


bitter taste perception acts as a signal to the central nervous system to warn animals against consuming potentially toxic substances. when bitter compounds activate bitter taste receptors, a signal reaches the brain that triggers an aversive response and activation of anorexic signals, hence reducing feed intake. the objective of the present study was to evaluate the aversive response of piglets to bitterness. a 24 h double-choice assay was performed with two 70 day-old piglets/pen, measuring the preference between two treatments (n=12 pens/treatment): a control and quinine chloride (clq, 480 ppm). in addition, a performance trial was conducted post-weaning, with a 14-day adaptation period followed by 14-days on test, testing three treatments: control, control 240 ppm clq, and control 240 ppm denatonium benzoate (db) (n = 9 piglets/treatment). the results for preference (%) and total feed consumption were analysed using a student’s t-test, while performance results were subjected to analysis of variance using a mixed model (sas software). preference results for the groups clq and control showed an aversion to clq (15% vs. 52%, respectively, p < 0.05), with a reduction in total consumption (2319 vs. 2520 g/d, respectively, p < 0.05). the performance trial showed differences in feed consumption during the first week of the test between the groups db and control (394 vs. 460 g/d, respectively, p < 0.05). in general, piglets responded to bitterness with aversion, although changes in feed consumption depended on the type of bitter substance and duration of exposure to the bitter feed.