The effects of dietary copper supplementation on performance and meat quality of pubertal pigs were assessed using 32 Large White x Landrace weanling boars of 8-9 weeks of age in a 6-month feeding trial. The pigs were randomly assigned to four diets containing 0, 100, 200 and 300 ppm supplementary copper sulphate as Diets 1 (Control), 2, 3 and 4 respectively. The feeding trial was divided into three physiological phases (weanling, pre-pubertal and pubertal). At the end of the feeding trial, all the pigs were sacrificed after stunning, dehaired, eviscerated, halved and Longissimus dorsi samples were collected and processed for oxidative stability.
Pigs fed the copper supplemented diets had significantly (P<0.05) higher daily weight gain of between 12.88 and 16.37%, 24.61 and 31.71%, and 25.00 and 26.46% for weanling, pre-pubertal and pubertal growth phases respectively, compared to those fed the control diet. Overall results (weanling to pubertal phases) showed that daily feed intake was increased by feeding copper supplemented diets. Copper supplementation significantly (P<0.05) increased daily weight gain but there was no significant (P>0.05) difference due to copper levels. Similarly, feed efficiency significantly (P<0.05) improved due to dietary copper supplementation. Pigs fed supplementary copper had significantly (P<0.05) higher eviscerated weight compared to those fed the control diet but the backfat thickness was not influenced. Oxidative stability of fresh and 6-day refrigerated pork from pigs was not significantly (P>0.05) affected by dietary treatments. However, marginal decreases (5.26-7.89% and 7.31-17.35% for fresh and 6-day refrigerated pork, respectively) in malodialdehyde concentrations of pork were recorded due to dietary copper supplementation. It was concluded that dietary copper supplementation improved growth performance and eviscerated percentage of pubertal boars; copper sulphate supplementation at 100 ppm was adequate at producing optimal effect and oxidative stability of the pork was marginally improved