Dexamethasone spurs piglet growth

Article

Newborn pigs may get off to a better start if given a one-time injection of the anti-inflammatory agent dexamethasone, according to research from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Newborn pigs may get off to a better start if given a one-time injectionof the anti-inflammatory agent dexamethasone, according to research fromthe Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Departmentof Agriculture (USDA).

In repeated small-scale tests, pigs treated with dexamethasone grew about12 percent faster in their first 18 days of life than did other pigs.

Dexamethasone is a synthetic version of a type of hormone called a corticoidthat is naturally produced by animals under stress.

Agricultural Research Service animal physiologist Jeffery A. Carrolland his colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia now are beginningto test the one-time treatment's long-term effects on pigs. These testsinclude measures of body composition at market weight, rate of weight gainand the amount of feed consumed per pound of gain.

If treated pigs' faster growth persists, a pharmaceutical company mightbe interested in conducting additional tests. More tests would be neededin order for the company to apply for federal regulatory approval of dexamethasoneinjection as a treatment to enhance pigs' growth.

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