Department of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
Research Report No. AL-1974-5 Experiment Station
June, 1974 Gainesville, Florida
v. of F oridal ,/
SULFATE, SULFUR AND METHIONINE IN-PIG-STARTER-DIETS/'
G. E. Combs and H. D. Wallace.21
Presently the literature does not show that swine have a specific dietary
requirement for inorganic sulfur. The prevailing opinion regarding the usage
of inorganic sulfur is that if sulfate is not provided in the diet then any
requirement for sulfur must be met by the oxidation of sulfur containing amino
acids. The cost of sulfur from methionine or its hydroxy analogue is much
greater than sulfur from inorganic sources consequently it would be an economic
advantage to supplement the diet with inorganic rather than organic sources of
This study was conducted to determine if the response to the addition of
inorganic sulfur or methionine was similar with a corn-soybean starter diet.
Experiment 1. One hundred and eight pigs weighing an average of 15 pounds
were allotted to diets containing 207. or 177. protein. These diets were supple-
mented with 0.57. sodium sulfate (SO4) or sufficient methionine to meet the pigs
requirement. The requirement was set at 0.737. of the diet and 0.04% and 0.16%
methionine was added to the 207. and 177. protein diets, respectively.
Experiment 2. Sixty pigs having an average initial weight of 17 pounds were
fed a 207. protein diet supplemented with: (1) 0.5% S04; (2) 0.17. S04; (3) 0.117
sulfur in the form of sublimed sulfur and (4) 0.57 SO4 without Aureo SP-250.
Experiment 3. Sixty pigs averaging approximately 13 pounds were allotted
to 4 treatment groups. The treatments were as follows:
1. Control (corn-soy diet + Aureo SP-250).
2. Corn-soy diet without Aureo SP-250 + 0.02% sulfur.
3. Control + 0.17. S04.
4. Control + 0.027. sulfur.
1/ Data came from Experiments 217, 217A and 217B.
2/ Combs and Wallace, Animal Nutritionists.
This public document was promulgated at an annual cost of
$81.60 or .08 cents per copy to inform county agricul-
tural directors,, ranchers and growers of research results
in swine management and nutrition.
Department of Animal Science
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
- 2 -
All pigs were housed in expanded metal cages equipped with automatic watering
devices and self feeders.
The composition of the diets is shown in Table 1.
Results and Discussion
The results of experiment 1 are presented in Table 2. With the 20. protein
diet the addition of SO4 increased gains 9% over the basal group and about 4%
over those given methionine. Addition of methionine increased daily gain 4.5%
over the pigs fed the basal diet. With feed efficiency, the SO4 diet was increased
5% over the basal-fed pigs and 2% over those given methionine. Methionine in-
creased feed efficiency over the basal group 3%. Pigs given the 17% protein diet
responded as follows: gains of the SO4 and basal group about equal whereas the
methionine fed group was about 12% less than either the SO4 or basal group. Feed
efficiency was similar for all treatment groups.
In experiment 2, only the 20% protein diet was used since the 17% level did
not show a response in experiment 1. As shown in table 3 gain was depressed by
the addition of sulfur at all levels and with both sources. The depression ranged
from 15% with those given 0.5% S04 to 6% with the pigs given 0.1 SO4 or 0.11%
sulfur which represents the quantity of sulfur present in 0.5% SO4. Feed effi-
ciency did not appear to be consistently influenced by level of sulfur.
The decrease in feed consumption by pigs given 0.5% SO4 or 0.11% sulfur in
experiment 2 prompted the reduction in experiment 3 to 0.1% SO4 and 0.02% sulfur.
Also 0.02% sulfur was fed with and without ASP-250 which contains sulfur as sulfa-
methazine. The results (table 4) show that the basal pigs and those given 0.1%
SO4 gained at the same rate and that 0.02% sulfur with and without ASP-250 reduced
daily gain. Sulfur, either as the SO4 or sublimed, brought about a reduction in
In two of three experiments supplemental sulfur, either as inorganic sulfate
or sublimed sulfur was ineffective in stimulating rate and efficiency of gain.
Methionine also failed to significantly increase either rate or efficiency of gain.
Consequently, it is not presently recommended that corn soybean diets containing
17-20% protein be supplemented with either methionine, inorganic sulfate or sub-
Three experiments involving 228 early weaned pigs were conducted to study
the influence of supplemental sulfur on rate and efficiency of gain. Sulfur was
provided as sodium sulfate at levels of 0.5 and 0.1% or as sublimed sulfur at
levels of 0.11 and 0.02% of the diet. These inorganic sources were also fed
with and without the organic sulfur compound sulfamethazine. Other dietary
treatments included supplementing 20 and 17% protein diets with DL-methionine.
In experiment 1, 0.5% sulfate and 0.04% methionine increased rate and
efficiency of gain 9, 5; 4.5, 3% respectively. In experiments 2 and 3 perfor-
mance was depressed by the addition of any inorganic source of sulfur.
The addition of sodium sulfate, sublimed sulfur or methionine to corn-
soybean meal pig starters (17-20% protein) is not presently recommended.
Table 1. Composition of Diets
Ground yellow corn
Trace minerals (CCC)-
Vitamin mix (UF)3/
1/ Methionine + cystine content calculated to be 0.69 and 0.57%
respectively for the 20 and 177. protein diets.
2/ Calcium Carbonate Company, Quincy, Illinois. Contains 20%
zinc, 10% iron, 5.5% manganese, 1.1% copper, 0.15% iodine,
0.10% cobalt and 2% calcium.
3/ Contains 6000 mg. riboflavin; 20,000 mg. niacin; 12,000 mg.
pantothenic acid; 80,000 mg. choline chloride; 10,000 meg.
vitamin B12; 2,500,000 I.U. vitamin A; 400,000 I.C.U. vita-
min D3 and 10,000 I.U. vitamin E per pound premix.
Table 2. Performance of Pigs Fed Diets Supplemented With
Sulfate Or Methioninel/ (Experiment 1)
Dietary Protein % 20 17
0.5% 0.04% 0.5% 0.16%
Basal S04 Methionine Basal S04 Methionine
Initial weight, lb. 14.90 14.90 14.90 14.90 14.90 14.90
Final weight, lb. 58.80 63.90 60.30 58.20 58.70 54.50
Daily gain, lb. 0.89 0.97 0.93 0.88 0.90 0.81
Daily feed, lb. 1.59 1.65 1.61 1.62 1.66 1.52
Feed/gain, lb. 1.79 1.70 1.73 1.83 1.85 1.86
1/ SO4 added as Na2SO4 and Methionine as DL.
_ __ I
Table 3. Influence Of Sulfate or Sulfur Supplements On
Young Pig Performance (Experiment 2)1/
Basal Basal Basal Basal-ASP/
+ + + 250 +
Treatments Basal 0.5% SO4 0.1% SO4 0.11% Sulfur 0.5% S04
Initial weight, lb. 17.00 16.90 16.90 17.10 17.00
Final weight, lb. 67.70 59.70 63.80 64.80 59.70
Daily gain, lb. 1.20 1.02 1.12 1.14 1.01
Daily feed, lb. 1.73 1.49 1.71 1.39 1.36
Feed/gain, lb. 1.43 1.46 1.53 1.30 1.34
1/ S04 as Na2SO ; Sulfur as sublimed sulfur.
2/ ASP-250 is Aureomycin SP-250.
Table 4. Performance Of Young Pigs Fed Diets Supplemented
With Sulfate or Sulfur (Experiment 3)1/
Basal-ASP-25021 Basal Basal
+ + +
Treatments Basal 0.02% Sulfur 0.1% S04 0.02% Sulfur
Initial weight, lb. 13.47 13.37 13.37 13.40
Final weight, lb. 51.10 42.60 50.97 48.23
Daily gain, lb. 0.90 0.70 0.90 0.83
Daily feed, lb. 1.45 1.11 1.39 1.34
Feed/gain, lb. 1.62 1.59 1.55 1.62
1/ Sulfate as Na2S04; Sulfur as sublimed sulfur.
2/ ASP-250 is Aureomycin SP-250.