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Efecto de la inclusión alimenticia de betaína en cerdos en fase de finalización

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Abstract

El consumidor de carne porcina demanda de un producto de calidad y con menor contenido de grasa, exigiendo que el nutricionista busque nuevas alternativas en la alimentación del cerdo. El objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar el efecto de la inclusión dietaria de betaína. Los parámetros productivos y rendimiento a la canal fueron evaluados, un total de 30 de cerdos machos castrados en fase de finalización (Landrace _ Yorkshire) fueron alimentadas con una dieta control o con la dieta experimental adicionada con 0.1% de betaína durante 29 días. El consumo diario promedio de alimento (CDPA) fue similar en ambos grupos (P>0.05). La ganancia diaria promedio de peso (GDP), conversión alimenticia (CA) y rendimiento a la canal (RC) para los cerdos alimentados con la dieta de betaína fue significativamente mayor (p<0.05) en comparación con la dieta no suplementada. El espesor de grasa dorsal (EGD)fue menor en el grupo experimental (p<0.05). La inclusión alimenticia de betaína al 0.1%en fase de finalización mejora la ganancia diaria de peso, conversión alimenticia y disminuye el contenido de grasa de la canal
Artículo científico / Scientific paper
NUTRICIÓN ANIMAL
pISSN:1390-3799; eISSN:1390-8596
http://doi.org/10.17163/lgr.n28.2018.10
EFECTO DE LA INCLUSIÓN ALIMENTICIA DE BETAÍNA EN
CERDOS EN FASE DE FINALIZACIÓN
EFFECT OF DIETARY INCLUSION OF BETAINE IN FINISHING PIGS
Romel Joaquín Páez Bustillos, Jorge Eduardo Grijalva Olmedo,
Jimmy Rolando Quisirumbay-Gaibor*
Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Av. Universitaria, Quito 170129, Ecuador.
*Autor para correspondencia: jrquisirumbay@uce.edu.ec
Artículo recibido el 27 de noviembre de 2017. Aceptado, tras revisión, el 9 de agosto de 2018. Publicado el 1 de septiembre de 2018.
Resumen
El consumidor de carne porcina demanda de un producto de calidad y con menor contenido de grasa, exigiendo
que el nutricionista busque nuevas alternativas en la alimentación del cerdo. El objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar
el efecto de la inclusión dietaria de betaína. Los parámetros productivos y rendimiento a la canal fueron evaluados,
un total de 30 de cerdos machos castrados en fase de finalización (Landrace ×Yorkshire) fueron alimentadas con
una dieta control o con la dieta experimental adicionada con 0.1% de betaína durante 29 días. El consumo diario
promedio de alimento (CDPA) fue similar en ambos grupos (P>0.05). La ganancia diaria promedio de peso (GDP),
conversión alimenticia (CA) y rendimiento a la canal (RC) para los cerdos alimentados con la dieta de betaína fue
significativamente mayor (p<0.05) en comparación con la dieta no suplementada. El espesor de grasa dorsal (EGD)
fue menor en el grupo experimental (p<0.05). La inclusión alimenticia de betaína al 0.1% en fase de finalización mejora
la ganancia diaria de peso, conversión alimenticia y disminuye el contenido de grasa de la canal
Palabras clave: betaína, cerdos, grasa, canal, nutrición.
122 LAGRANJA:Revista de Ciencias de la Vida 28(2) 2018:122-129.
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2018, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana, Ecuador.
Efecto de la Inclusión Alimenticia de Betaína en Cerdos en Fase de Finalización
Abstract
The pork consumer demands a quality product with a lower fat content, requiring the nutritionist to look for new
alternatives in the feeding of pigs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary betaine. The per-
formance and dressing proportion were evaluated, a total of 30 finishing barrows (Landrace ×Yorkshire) were fed a
control diet or with the experimental diet added with 0.1% betaine for 29 days. The average daily feed intake (CD-
PA) was similar in both groups (P>0.05). The average daily weight gain (GDP), feed conversion (CA) and dressing
proportion (RC) in betaine group was significantly higher (p<0.05) compared to the non-supplemented diet. Backfat
thickness (EGD) was lower in the experimental group (p<0.05). The dietary betaine inclusion of 0.1% in barrows im-
proves daily weight gain, feed conversion and reduces carcass fat content.
Keywords: betaine, pigs, fat, dressing proportion, nutrition.
Forma sugerida de citar: Páez Bustillos, J. E., Grijalva Olmedo, J. E. y Quisirumbay-Gaibor, J. R. 2018. Efecto de la
Inclusión Alimenticia de Betaína en Cerdos en Fase de Finalización. La Granja: Revista
de Ciencias de la Vida. Vol. 28(2):122-129. http://doi.org/10.17163/lgr.n28.2018.10.
LAGRANJA:Revista de Ciencias de la Vida 28(2) 2018:122-129.
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2018, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana, Ecuador. 123
Artículo científico / Scientific paper
NUTRICIÓN ANIMAL
Romel Joaquín Páez Bustillos, Jorge Eduardo Grijalva Olmedo,
Jimmy Rolando Quisirumbay-Gaibor
1 Introducción
La betaína, conocida también como trimetilglici-
na, es un derivado del aminoácido glicina que se
encuentra normalmente en una gran variedad de
plantas y animales (Saarinen et al., 2001). Su princi-
pal función es actuar como donador de grupos me-
tilo (Craig, 2004), favorece la síntesis de creatina y
carnitina y disminuye los requerimientos de otras
moléculas donadoras de metilo como la metionina
y la colina (Eklund et al., 2005; Ratriyanto et al., 2009;
Simon, 1999).
Se ha demostrado su papel como osmo-
protector (Kidd, Ferket y Garlich, 1997) de manera
especial en ambientes de alta osmolaridad en algu-
nos microorganismos (Boch, Kempf y Bremer, 1994)
y cultivos celulares (Horio et al., 2001). Tieneun bajo
costo y mucha seguridad en su uso alimenticio (Day
y Kempson, 2016).
En los últimos años se ha descubierto que la
betaína participa en la regulación de los genes de
transporte y oxidación de ácidos grasos (Cai et al.,
2016), así como en los genes para la síntesis de lí-
pidos y colesterol (Albuquerque et al., 2017). Exis-
te evidencia de un papel ahorrador de energía de
la betaína en el metabolismo de los cerdos en creci-
miento, en especial bajo condiciones específicas co-
mo por ejemplo la limitación de la ingesta de ali-
mento y de energía en la dieta (Siljander-Rasi et al.,
2003; Wray-Cahen et al., 2004). Demostrando así que
la suplementación con betaína afecta la partición de
energía (Fernández-Fígares et al., 2002) y podría me-
jorar el valor energético de las dietas (Schrama et al.,
2003).
Es importante mencionar que los primeros re-
sultados en cuanto al uso de la betaína en la alimen-
tación de cerdos en finalización ha sido inconsisten-
te, reportándose una ausencia de efecto o un efecto
mínimo sobre el crecimiento, consumo de alimento,
ganancia diaria de peso y depósito de tejido adipo-
so(Matthews et al., 1998; Overland, Rørvik y Skrede,
1999).
Sin embargo, en otros trabajos se ha deter-
minado que la inclusión de betaína en cerdos
en crecimiento-finalización favorece el desempeño
productivo (Yang et al., 2009) disminuye el conteni-
do de grasa en la carcasa (Huang et al., 2006; Nakev
et al., 2009; Sales, 2011) y el espesor de grasa dorsal
beneficiando a la industria porcina (Feng et al., 2006;
Lawrence et al., 2002; Ribeiro et al., 2011).
De igual forma, se ha encontrado que la inclu-
sión de betaína favorece la formación de ácidos gra-
sos saturados al utilizar DDGs (30%) en la alimenta-
ción de cerdos, disminuyendo así la proporción de
ácidos grasos insaturados (Wang et al., 2015) y me-
jora el color de la carne (Su et al., 2013). También
se ha demostrado que la betaína reduce la produc-
ción total de calor corporal (Schrama et al., 2003) y
favorece el desempeño reproductivo en épocas ca-
lurosas (Cabezón et al., 2016; Lugar et al., 2018; van
Wettere, Herde y Hughes, 2012).
Con lo señalado anteriormente, el objetivo de es-
te estudio fue evaluar el efecto de la inclusión die-
taria de 1 mg/kg de betaína sobre parámetros pro-
ductivos, rendimiento a la canal y espesor de grasa
dorsal en cerdos, cuando se les ofreció alimento ad
libitum entre los 66 a 100 kg de peso vivo.
2 Materiales y métodos
Este trabajo se desarrolló en la granja porcina
“La Maresca”, ubicada en Cayambe, Pichincha-
Ecuador. Se utilizó un total de 30 cerdos machos cas-
trados F1 (Landrace X Yorkshire) con un peso medio
inicial de 66 ±4 kg y 110 días de edad distribuidos
de manera aleatoria en dos grupos: control y experi-
mental (0.1% de betaína), 15 cerdos por tratamiento.
Los cerdos fueron alojados en corrales individuales
(3.75 m2) considerándose cada cerdo como una uni-
dad experimental, el alimento y el agua fueron ad-
ministrados ad libitum.
Las dietas se elaboraron a partir de maíz y so-
ya para cubrir los requerimientos nutricionales del
National Research Council (2012). La composición
de los ingredientes y el contenido nutricional de las
dietas usadas en el experimento se muestran en la
Tabla 1. El experimento tuvo una duración de 29
días, 24 horas antes del sacrificio el alimento fue re-
tirado aunque los cerdos tuvieron acceso al agua de
bebida hasta el faenamiento (139 días de edad).
Las variables evaluadas fueron: consumo dia-
rio promedio de alimento (CDPA), ganancia diaria
de peso (GDP), conversión alimenticia (CA), rendi-
miento a la canal (RC) y espesor de grasa dorsal
(EGD). El rendimiento a la canal se calculó como el
peso de la carcasa como porcentaje del peso vivo an-
tes del sacrificio. El espesor de grasa dorsal se midió
con un calibrador manual en la última costilla una
vez que la canal fue dividida por la mitad.
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Efecto de la Inclusión Alimenticia de Betaína en Cerdos en Fase de Finalización
Tabla 1. Composición y contenido nutricional de las dietas
Ingrediente Control Experimental
Maíz (%) 77,86 77,76
Pasta de soya (%) 19 19
Carbonato de Calcio (%) 1,1 1,1
Aceite de soya (%) 1 1
Sal (%) 0,3 0,3
Fosfato dicálcico (%) 0,23 0,23
L-Lisina HCl (%) 0,01 0,01
Premezcla vitamínica-minerala(%) 0,5 0,5
Betaína (%) - 0,1
Composición de la dieta
Energía Metabolizable (kcal/kg) 3300 3300
Proteína Cruda (%) 14,5 14,5
Calcio total (%) 0,5 0,5
Fósforo total (%) 0,45 0,45
Lisina Total (%) 0,8 0,8
aLa premezcla aporta la siguiente cantidad de micronutrientes
por kilogramo de dieta: vitamina A, 7600 IU; vitamina D, 1500
IU; vitamina E, 10 mg; vitamina K3, 2.0 mg; vitamina B1, 1.0 mg;
vitamina B6, 1.0 mg; vitamina B2, 3.0 mg; vitamina B12, 12 µg;
ácido pantoténico, 7 mg; niacina, 12 mg; Zn, 105 mg; Fe, 100 mg;
Cu, 20 mg; Mn, 45 mg; I, 0.3 mg; Se, 0.3 mg.
3 Análisis estadístico
Para el experimento se utilizó un diseño completa-
mente aleatorizado (DCA), cada cerdo fue conside-
rado como una unidad experimental. Para la dife-
rencia entre medias se utilizó la prueba de t de stu-
dent para muestras independientes, con un nivel de
significancia de 0.05.
4 Resultados y discusión
4.1 Consumo diario promedio de alimento
(CDPA)
No hubo diferencia significativa (P>0.05) (Tabla 2
siendo el consumo de 2,64 ±0,001 kg para el tes-
tigo y 2,63 ±0,004 kg para el grupo experimental.
La información obtenida concuerda con los resulta-
dos encontrados por Feng et al. (2006), estudio en el
cual el grupo que recibió betaína (1.25 mg/kg) pre-
sentó un consumo de 2,39 vs. 2,34 en el grupo con-
trol (P>0.05). Similar a estos resultados fueron los
encontrados por Wang et al. (2015) en el que cerdos
alimentados con DDGs al 30% que recibieron betaí-
na (0.1%) presentaron un consumo de 2,65 vs. 2,71
kg/día del grupo control (sin DDGs ni betaína).
Así también coinciden con los encontrados en el
estudio realizado por Schrama et al. (2003), donde
se evaluó la inclusión de betaína a un nivel de 1,29
g/kg de alimento (0,129%), donde no hubo diferen-
cia significativa (P>0.10) 1 548 kg vs. 1 558 kg para el
grupo control y experimental, respectivamente, du-
rante un periodo de tres semanas de experimenta-
ción; aunque este estudio se realizó en cerdos entre
los 35 a 46 kg de peso vivo. Sin embargo estos re-
sultados no concuerdan con los obtenidos por Yang
et al. (2009) en el que hubo de manera significati-
va (P<0,05) un menor consumo de alimento en cer-
dos que recibieron betaína a un nivel de inclusión
de 0,2% frente al grupo control y a los niveles de 0,4
y 0,6% de betaína.
LAGRANJA:Revista de Ciencias de la Vida 28(2) 2018:122-129.
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2018, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana, Ecuador. 125
Artículo científico / Scientific paper
NUTRICIÓN ANIMAL
Romel Joaquín Páez Bustillos, Jorge Eduardo Grijalva Olmedo,
Jimmy Rolando Quisirumbay-Gaibor
Tabla 2. Efecto de la inclusión dietaria de betaína (0.1%) en cerdos en finalización
Variable Control Experimental
Peso final (kg) 94,75 ±1,01 a 103,99 ±1,78 b
Ganancia diaria de peso (kg/d) 0,99 ±0,02 a 1,31 ±0,03 b
Consumo diario de alimento (kg/d) 2,64 ±0,001 a 2,63 ±0,004 a
Conversión alimenticia 2,68 ±0,04 a 2,02 ±0,04 b
Rendimiento a la canal (%) 80,9 ±0,38 a 82,07 ±0,27 b
Espesor de grasa dorsal (mm) 17,27 ±0,21 a 13,93 ±0,37 b
Los valores presentados son la media ±error estándar. Las medias den-
tro de una misma fila con letras distintas difieren significativamente
(p < 0.05).
4.2 Ganancia Diaria de Peso (GDP)
Se encontró una diferencia significativa (P<0.05) con
mayor ganancia en el grupo experimental 1,31 ±
0,03 kg/d frente al grupo control 0,99 ±0,02 kg/d.
Estas observaciones están en acuerdo con las encon-
tradas en el estudio realizado por Yang et al. (2009)
en el que cerdos entre 65-100 kg alimentados con
betaína al 0,2; 0,4 y 0,6% difieren significativamen-
te (P<0,05) del grupo control, 0,94; 1,16; 1,07 y 0,91
kg/d, respectivamente. De igual manera, en el es-
tudio realizado por Ribeiro et al. (2011) se encontró
que el grupo que recibió betaína al 0,2% presentó
la mayor GDP (1 055 kg/d) frente al grupo testigo
(0,967 kg/d).
Sin embargo estos datos difieren de los obte-
nidos en cerdos entre los 62,5 a 92,5 kg de peso
vivo, que no presentaron diferencias significativas
(P>0,05) 0,715 kg/d y 0.748 kg/d para el grupo con-
trol y betaína (1,25 mg/kg), respectivamente (Feng
et al., 2006). De manera similar en el estudio reali-
zado por Wang et al. (2015) en cerdos entre los 58 a
94 kg no existió diferencia significativa (P>0,05) en-
tre el grupo que recibió betaína (0,1%) y el control
0,85 vs. 0,87, respectivamente. Una tendencia simi-
lar a los estudios de Feng et al. (2006); Wang et al.
(2015) se encontró cuando la betaína fue utilizada a
un nivel de inclusión de 0,129% en cerdos entre 35 a
46 kg siendo la GDP de 0,651 para el grupo experi-
mental y 0,648 para el grupo testigo (Schrama et al.,
2003).
4.3 Conversión Alimenticia (CA)
Se encontró diferencia significativa (P<0,05) entre
los dos tratamientos grupo experimental 2,02 ±0,04,
mientras que el grupo testigo fue de 2,67 ±0,04. Esta
información concuerda con lo encontrado por Yang
et al. (2009) en el que los cerdos que recibieron betaí-
na al 0,2; 0,4 y 0,6% presentaron una menor conver-
sión alimenticia (P<0,05) frente al grupo control 3;
2,8; 3,01 y 3,45, respectivamente. Así también lo de-
mostró Ribeiro et al. (2011) en el que la CA fue me-
nor en el grupo que recibió betaína al 0,2% (3,038)
al compararlo con el grupo control (3,470).
Sin embargo estos resultados no concuerdan con
los encontrados por Feng et al. (2006) en los cuales
no hubo diferencia significativa (P>0,05) 3,27 para
el grupo control y 3,22 para los cerdos que recibie-
ron betaína (1,25 mg/kg). De igual manera no se en-
contró diferencia significativa en el estudio realiza-
do por Wang et al. (2015), en el que se obtuvo una
conversión alimenticia similar de 3,11 para ambos
grupos control y betaína (0,1%). Además en cerdos
entre los 35 a 46 kg no se encontró diferencia signifi-
cativa (P>0,10) presentando ambos grupos una CA
de 2,39 (Schrama et al., 2003).
4.4 Rendimiento a la canal
Los resultados obtenidos para el grupo testigo fue-
ron 80,90 ±0,38% y para el grupo experimental
82,07 ±0,27% encontrándose una diferencia signifi-
cativa (P<0,05) a favor del grupo experimental. Es-
tos resultados no concuerdan con los reportados por
Feng et al. (2006) en los cuales no se encontró dife-
rencia significativa (P>0.05) para cerdos faenados a
los 92,5 kg de peso vivo que consumieron betaína
(1,25 mg/kg) frente al grupo control. Tampoco se
encontró diferencia significativa en el estudio reali-
zado por Wang et al. (2015) en el que el rendimiento
fue de 77,05% para el grupo control y 75,64% para
el grupo de betaína en cerdos faenados a los 94 kg.
126 LAGRANJA:Revista de Ciencias de la Vida 28(2) 2018:122-129.
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2018, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana, Ecuador.
Efecto de la Inclusión Alimenticia de Betaína en Cerdos en Fase de Finalización
4.5 Espesor de grasa dorsal
Se encontró diferencia significativa (P<0,05), siendo
mayor el depósito de grasa en el grupo testigo 17,27
±0,21 mm vs el grupo experimental 13,93 ±0,37
mm. Los datos coinciden con los encontrados por
Feng et al. (2006) a pesar que la medición se realizó
a nivel de la décima costilla 24,9 mm vs. 22,7 mm
obteniéndose una reducción de un 8,84% (p<0.05) a
favor del grupo que consumió betaína (0.125%).
Así también se encontró que en cerdos faenados
a los 150 días de edad, aquellos que recibieron be-
taína al nivel de 0,2% presentaron menor espesor
de grasa dorsal 14,7 mm vs. el grupo testigo 15,4
mm (Ribeiro et al., 2011). Además en un experimen-
to realizado por Schrama et al. (2003) en el cual se
incluyó betaína al 0,129% se favoreció un mayor de-
pósito de proteína 3 semanas después de iniciado el
experimento. Sin embargo estos resultados no coin-
ciden con los reportados por Wang et al. (2015) don-
de no se encontró diferencia significativa (P>0.05)
entre los cerdos del grupo control 28 mm vs. cerdos
del grupo que recibió betaína 27 mm.
5 Conclusiones y recomendaciones
La inclusión alimenticia de betaína al 0,1% en la die-
ta de cerdos en fase de finalización mejora los pa-
rámetros productivos de ganancia diaria de peso y
conversión alimenticia. Además, favorece la forma-
ción de masa muscular disminuyendo el depósito
de grasa dorsal. Se recomienda realizar más estu-
dios en los que se evalúe mayores niveles de inclu-
sión de betaína y se desafíe a los cerdos con menores
niveles de energía.
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... Betaine, a tri-methyl derivative of glycine, has been described as a promising feed additive that is capable of improving pig performance (Huang et al., 2009;Páez Bustillos, Grijalva Olmedo, & Quisirumbay-Gaibor, 2018). The mechanistic action of betaine is mainly due to its effect on osmoregulation and increased nutrient digestibility (Lipiński, Szramko, Jeroch, & Matusevičius, 2012;Wang, Li, Xu, & Feng, 2020). ...
... This study has assessed the effect of ractopamine, betaine, and the combination of both feed additives in diets of finishing pigs on performance, carcass and meat quality traits, as well as on mRNA expression of lipid metabolism markers in two skeletal muscles and adipose tissue. Although it was hypothesized that betaine would improve animal performance, the results revealed supplementation of betaine (on an independent basis) was not able to promote major changes in live performance of pigs contrary to previous studies (Huang et al., 2009;Páez Bustillos et al., 2018).It has been shown that ractopamine can provide a more intense activation of the mTOR pathway by increasing the expression of protein such as p-AKT and p-p70S6K in muscle tissue of finishing pigs , which results in greater muscle deposition (Adeola et al., 1992). Thus, in the present study, the higher ADG and FBW observed in pigs fed RAC and RAC + BET diets was likely a consequence of greater muscle deposition and, accordingly, resulted in a greater contribution to weight gain (Li, Li, Zhang, Gao, & Zhou, 2017). ...
... Both ractopamine and betaine are feed additives reported to reduce backfat thickness in finishing pigs (Huang et al., 2009;Páez Bustillos et al., 2018;Park et al., 2018;Rickard et al., 2012). However, in the present study the RAC and BET diets resulted in intermediate responses for reducing BF, with only the RAC + BET diet being effective in reducing BF compared to the CTRL diet, which demonstrates the additive effect between RAC and BET in reducing BF was more intense than the use of the feed additives alone. ...
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Methyl donors play critical roles in nutritional programming through epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Here we fed gestational sows with control or betaine-supplemented diets (3g/kg) throughout the pregnancy to explore the effects of maternal methyl-donor nutrient on neonatal expression of hepatic lipogenic genes. Betaine-exposed piglets demonstrated significantly lower liver triglyceride content associated with down-regulated hepatic expression of lipogenic genes acetyl-CoA Carboxylase (ACC), fatty acid synthase (FAS), stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) and sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c. Moreover, s-adenosyl methionine to s-adenosyl homocysteine ratio was elevated in the liver of betaine-exposed piglets, which was accompanied by DNA hypermethylation on FAS and SCD gene promoters and more enriched repression histone mark H3K27me3 on SCD gene promoter. Furthermore, glucocorticoid receptor (GR) binding to SCD gene promoter was diminished along with reduced serum cortisol and liver GR protein content in betaine-exposed piglets. GR-mediated SCD gene regulation was confirmed in HepG2 cells in vitro. Dexamethasone (Dex) drastically increased the luciferase activity of porcine SCD promoter, while the deletion of GR response element on SCD promoter significantly attenuated Dex-mediated SCD transactivation. In addition, miR-let-7e, miR-1285 and miR-124a, which respectively target porcine SCD, ACC and GR, were significantly up-regulated in the liver of betaine-exposed piglets, being in accordance with decreased protein content of these three genes. Taken together, our results suggest that maternal dietary betaine supplementation during gestation attenuates hepatic lipogenesis in neonatal piglets via epigenetic and GR-mediated mechanisms.
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Betaine and its precursor choline were compared in their efficiency in affecting the performance, carcass traits, and liver betaine concentration of growing-finishing pigs. Individually penned Finnish Landrace and Yorkshire pigs and their crosses (30 kg; no. = 70) were offered the basal diet with no added betaine or choline, or the basal diet supplemented with low to moderate doses (250, 500 or 1000 mg/kg) of betaine (Betafin® S1), or with a similar molar amount of choline (578, 1155 or 2310 mg/kg of choline chloride). The maize-soya-bean-meal basal diet was formulated to contain 12.3 MJ/kg digestible energy, 155 g/kg crude protein and 7.4, 4.4 and 4.3 g/kg digestible lysine, threonine and methionine + cystine, respectively. Oat hull meal (100 g/kg) was added to reduce the dietary energy concentration. The pigs were on a restricted feeding level, 1.5 to 3.0 kg food per day (proportionately 0.8 of ad libitum intake) for 75 days. Daily weight gain and food-to-gain ratio improved linearly (P < 0.01) with increasing dietary betaine. Carcass weight increased linearly (P < 0.01) but slaughter loss proportion, backfat and sidefat thicknesses and lean proportions in ham and carcass were unaffected by dietary betaine level. Liver betaine level increased linearly (by up to a proportion of 0.62 in comparison with the control) with dietary betaine addition (P < 0.05) and betaine tended to improve linearly the tensile strength of the proximal ileum (P = 0.07). The presence of choline had no effect on any of these parameters. These results indicate that low to moderate doses of dietary betaine improved the growth and the efficiency of food utilization of growing-finishing pigs. Pigs on betaine diets had heavier carcasses without a relative increase in carcass fat. Choline had no such effects in pigs offered the restricted amount of diet. Liver betaine concentration increased with level of betaine in the diet whereas the betaine precursor choline did not affect hepatic betaine.