SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.41 issue1L-glutamine and L-glutamate in diets with different lactose levels for piglets weaned at 21 days of ageEvaluation of zeolite levels in diets for swine in the growing and finishing phases author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



  • English (pdf)
  • Article in xml format
  • How to cite this article
  • SciELO Analytics
  • Curriculum ScienTI
  • Automatic translation


Related links


Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia

On-line version ISSN 1806-9290

R. Bras. Zootec. vol.41 no.1 Viçosa Jan. 2012 



Relationship of arginine with lysine in diets for laying Japanese quails



Renata de Souza ReisI; Sergio Luiz de Toledo BarretoI; Walason da Silva AbjaudeII; Daniel Rodrigues DutraIII; Marilú SantosIV; Eriane de PaulaI





To determine the relationship of arginine with lysine for Japanese quails during the period of production, an experiment was conducted using 360 subspecies of Japanese quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica) with 162 days of age, distributed in a completely randomized design. Diets were formulated with corn, soybean meal, sorghum and wheat bran containing 20.0% crude protein and 2,800 kcal ME/kg. The basal diet contained suboptimal level of lysine equal to 1% and was supplemented with five levels of L-arginine 99% (0.032; 0.083; 0.134; 0.185 and 0.236%) to replace the glutamic acid, corresponding to the relationship of arginine with digestible lysine of 1.16, 1.21, 1.26, 1.31 and 1.36. The parameters studied were: feed intake, egg production per hen/day, egg production per hen housed, commercial egg production, egg weight, egg mass, feed conversion by egg mass, feed conversion per dozen eggs, weight and percentage of components of the eggs (yolk, albumen and shell) and specific gravity. There was no significant effect on the relationship of arginine with digestible lysine in the diet of Japanese quails for any of the parameters examined. The arginine/lysine ratio of 1.16, which corresponds to a daily intake of 288.84 mg of arginine, provides satisfactory performance and egg quality of Japanese quails.

Key Words: Coturnix coturnix japonica, digestible amino acid, egg quality, performance




According to the IBGE (2007), quail raising has shown considerable growth in recent years: the squab has grown 5.3% compared with 2006, while egg production has totaled about 131 million dozen. However, little is known about the nutrition parameters for quail; quail growers often uses foreign tables of nutritional requirements that can over-or underestimate the nutritional requirements of these birds in Brazilian conditions. Evolution of the genetic characteristics of the quail has been observed; these birds are generally heavier, more productive and laid larger eggs (Oliveira, 2007). With the introduction of different genotypes in the market, the need to update the nutritional requirements of these birds has become bigger.

Among the studies involving the nutrition of Japanese quails, many comprehend minerals and amino acids, especially lysine and methionine, and a few, threonine and tryptophan. However, little is known about the requirement of other amino acids such as arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid, because since they lack the urea cycle, birds have the functional requirement of arginine greater than mammals (Baker, 1994). There is evidence that there is antagonism between arginine and lysine-induced imbalance in the relationship between these two amino acids, so that excess lysine stimulates arginase increased renal catabolism of arginine in the body, causing symptoms of deficiency of this amino acid, which can cause a decrease in productive responses. The increased level of arginine to lysine-rich diet relieves the depressant effect caused by this antagonism (Bertechini, 2006). A deficiency of arginine may cause changes in the structure of primary feathers, resulting in appearance described in the literature as "bird helicopter" (Cook et al, 1984).

Arginine is an amino acid available for studies of nutritional requirements, but its supplementation in diets is not yet common, although it is considered an essential amino acid and plays important functions in mammals and birds (Cynober et al., 1995). Currently, the recommended use of arginine in diets for quail are based on the NRC (1994), as there are no studies with this amino acid found in Brazil. Knowing that climatic conditions and management are factors that may influence the use of this recommendation, this research aimed to evaluate different relationships of arginine whit lysine in the diet of laying Japanese quails.


Material and Methods

The experiment was conducted in the Setor de Avicultura do Departamento de Zootecnia da Universidade Federal de Viçosa, and lasted 63 days, in the period from January to March 2009.

Three hundred and sixty Japanese quails at 65 days of age were distributed in a completely randomized design, consisting of five treatments, nine replicates and eight birds per experimental unit.

A basal diet (Table 1) was made, supplemented with five levels of L-arginine 99% (0.032, 0.083, 0.134, 0.185, 0.236%), replacing the glutamic acid in protein equivalent, corresponding to the ratio of arginine to lysine in ratios of 1.16, 1.21, 1.26, 1.31 and 1.36. Differences arising from the balancing of protein equivalent to the arginine and glutamic acid in different ratios of arginine to lysine in evaluation were offset by the starch.

The relationships of digestible threonine, tryptophan and methionine plus cystine with lysine adopted in this research were the same used by Umigi et al. (2008), Pinheiro et al. (2008) and Reis et al. (2009), respectively. As the other relationships of amino acids were not determined on the digestible basis, they were seen maintaining the relationship of total amino acid with lysine as recommended in the NRC (1994). The energy level of the diet used was 2,800 kcal/kg, as determined by Moura et al. (2008); the levels of calcium and phosphorus were corrected for energy density of the diet according to the same authors. The other requirements were met in accordance with those recommended by the NRC (1994).

The composition and nutritional value of ingredients used to formulate the diet were calculated according to Rostagno et al. (2005).

Birds were housed in galvanized wire cages equipped with feeders and nipple drinkers. Each cage provided a space of 106 cm2/bird.

Feed and water were provided ad libitum throughout the experimental period.

The daily management was to collect and to count the eggs (including eggs broken, cracked, with a soft shell and shelled), to record the temperatures (°C) and relative humidity in the experimental shed once a day, at 4 p.m. by using thermometers and to record maximum and minimum dry and wet bulb, positioned at a central point at the level of the birds. The lighting program consisted of providing 17 hours of light per day, controlled by an automatic timer that allowed the lights to turn on and off automatically overnight, according to the procedure adopted on commercial farms.

At the end of the experimental period (63 days), the amount of feed consumed (g/bird/day) in each experimental unit was determined. To do so, feed scraps and waste products were weighed and subtracted from the amount of feed supplied during the experimental period. The number of dead birds was subtracted from the total number of birds in each experimental unit, which allowed obtaining the correct consumption per bird.

The egg production was expressed as a percentage of bird day (egg/bird/day) and birds were housed at the beginning of the experiment (egg/housed bird). These data were obtained by computing the daily number of eggs produced, including the broken, the cracked and abnormal (eggs with soft shell and shelled) eggs. The average number of marketable eggs during the experimental period was calculated by subtracting the broken, cracked and abnormal eggs from the total number of eggs produced.

To obtain the specific gravity of eggs at 16, 17 and 18 days from each of the three experimental periods, all intact eggs were immersed and evaluated in NaCl solutions with densities from 1.055 to 1.100 g/cm3, with ranges of 0.005 g/cm3 between them.

All intact eggs produced in each replicate were weighed on a 0.001-g precision balance on days 19, 20 and 21 of each of the three experimental periods to obtain the average weight of eggs. After weighing, four eggs were randomly selected from each repetition for quantification. Eggs selected for each repetition and each day were individually weighed on a 0.001-g precision balance. After weighing, they were identified and subsequently broken. The yolk of each egg was weighed and recorded, its shell was washed, and air dried for further weighing. The weight of albumen was obtained by the difference between the egg weight and yolk weight plus the weight of the shell.

The average weight of eggs was multiplied by the total number of eggs produced in the period, resulting in the total mass of eggs per period. Total mass of eggs was divided by the total number of birds of the period and by the number of days in the period, and finally expressed in grams of egg/hen/day. The conversion per dozen eggs, expressed as the total feed intake in kilograms divided by the dozen eggs produced (kg/ dozen), and conversion by egg mass, which was obtained by the feed intake in kilograms divided by the mass of eggs produced in kilograms (kg/kg) were evaluated.

The parameters were subjected to analysis of variance and regression, according to SAEG statistical package (Sistema para Análises Estatísticas, versão 9.1). Estimates for the determination of the ratio of arginine with lysine was satisfactory through linear regression and quadratic, as the best fit obtained for each parameter, considering the biological behavior of birds.


Results and Discussion

Maximum, minimum and dry bulb temperatures and relative humidity were checked daily during the experimental period (Table 2).



At the mature phase, the thermal comfort range of quail is from 18 to 22 °C, and the relative humidity ranges from 65 to 70% (Oliveira, 2004). Thus, according to the values recorded for the dry bulb thermometer (Table 2), it is possible to observe that the quails were in mild conditions of heat stress in part of the experiment.

There was no significant effect (P>0.05) for arginine/lysine ratio in the diet on feed intake (Table 3). The values obtained for this parameter are in agreement with Baker & Albino & Barreto (2003), who mentioned the average daily consumption of feed per adult Japanese quails between 23 and 26 g. Lobato & Costa (2009), evaluating the arginine requirement for laying Japanese quails using the levels 1.01, 1.09, 1.17, 1.25 and 1.33% observed quadratic behavior for feed consumption, determining the requirement of 1.185% arginine to this parameter. Lima et al. (2007) evaluated the effect of arginine with lysine on the performance of brown-egg pullets and laying hens, using a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement, consisting of three levels of arginine (0.64, 0.72 and 0.79%) two lysine levels (0.71 and 0.78%) and two strains, and found no interference of arginine on the genotypes, or vice-versa. However, evaluating separately, the strains were different in feed intake.

It can be inferred that, in the present study, the increase in the arginine with lysine was not sufficient to cause amino acid imbalance that resulted in changing the plasma profile of the animal by activating the mechanisms regulating appetite, as described by Harper et al. (1970). The increase in the ratio of these amino acids probably did not provoke antagonism between arginine and lysine, which would be verified by reducing consumption.

There was no significant effect (P>0.05) on the relationship of arginine with lysine on egg production. However, Lobato & Costa (2009) found a quadratic effect of arginine levels for laying Japanese quails, and this is maximized at the level of 1.166% of arginine. Lima et al. (2007) observed that hens fed diets containing 0.79% arginine and 0.71% lysine had higher egg production, which corresponds to the arginine to lysine ratio of 1.13.

With respect to egg production per hen housed there was no significant effect (P>0.05) by relationships utilized. In the literature, there are few scientific studies determining the production of eggs per quail housed. This is an important parameter to be observed, since the mortality of these birds during the laying period is high, compared with mortality in laying hens.

The relationship of arginine with lysine in the diet did not influence (P>0.05) the quality of eggs to be commercialized.

There was no significant effect (P>0.05) in the relationship of arginine with lysine in the diet on egg weight. When working with laying hens, Lima et al. (2007) concluded that levels of 0.72% arginine and 0.78% lysine resulted in greater weight of eggs.

For parameters for mass and feed conversion per dozen eggs also no significant effect was found (P>0.05). However, working with layers, Lima et al. (2007) found better values of feed conversion in the lower lysine level (0.71%) and the highest level of arginine (0.79%) corresponding to the arginine to lysine ratio of 1.13.

In studies with broilers (Costa et al. 2001; Atencio et al., 2004) found no influence of arginine levels on the performance of growing birds. However, Brake et al. (1998), also working with broilers, observed improved feed conversion linearly with increasing the arginine/lysine ratio from 1.05 to 1.49 in the diet, at a temperature of 31 ºC; this result indicates that high temperatures require high ratios of arginine/lysine in the diet.

There was no significant effect (P>0.05) on the relation of arginine with lysine in the diet of Japanese quails for any parameters of egg quality (Table 4).

The relationship of arginine with lysine did not affect the specific gravity of eggs; this leads to the conclusion that this amino acid has no influence on external quality of egg shell as it also did not influence the weight of them. According to Hamilton (1978), egg weight is a factor of change in shell quality, because t heavier eggs tend to have weaker shells due to the bird inability to deposit calcium in the same proportion for growth and egg weight.



The arginine/lysine ratio of 1.16, which corresponds to a daily intake of 288.84 mg of arginine, provides satisfactory results of performance and quality of eggs of Japanese quails.



ALBINO, L.F.T.; BARRETO, S.L.T. Codornas: criação de codornas para produção de ovos e carne. Viçosa, MG: Aprenda Fácil, 2003. 289p.         [ Links ]

ATENCIO, A.; ALBINO, L.F.T.; ROSTAGNO, H.S. et al. Exigência de arginina digestível para frangos de corte machos em diferentes fases. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, v.33, n.6, p.1456-1466, 2004.         [ Links ]

BAKER, D.H.; HAN, Y. Ideal amino acid profile for chicks during the first three weeks post-hatching. Poultry Science, v.73, n.9, p.1441-1447, 1994.         [ Links ]

BERTECHINI, A.G. Nutrição de monogástricos. Lavras: UFLA, 2006. 301p.         [ Links ]

BRAKE, J.; BALNAVE D.; DIBNER J.J. Optimum dietary arginine: lysine ratio for broiler chickens is altered during heat stress in associationwith changes in intestinal uptake and dietary sodium chloride. British Poultry Science, v.39, n.5, p.639-647, 1998.         [ Links ]

COOK, M.E.; SUNDE, M.L.; STAH, J.L. et al. Zinc deficiency in pheasant chicks fed practical diets. Avian Diseases, v.28, n.4, p.1103-1109, 1984.         [ Links ]

COSTA, F.G.P.; ROSTAGNO, H.S.; TOLEDO, R.S. et al. Efeito da relação arginina: lisina sobre o desempenho e qualidade de carcaça de frangos de corte de 3 a 6 semanas de idade, em condições de alta temperatura. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, v.30, n.6, p.2021-2025, 2001.         [ Links ]

CYNOBER, L.; LE BOUCHER, J.; VASSON, M.P. Arginine metabolism in mammals. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, v.6, p.402-413, 1995.         [ Links ]

HARPER, A.E.; BENEVENGA, N.J.; WOHLHUETER, R.M. Effects of ingestion of disproportionate amounts of amino acids. Phsiological Reviews, v.50, n.4, p.428-547, 1970.         [ Links ]

INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO DE GEOGRAFIA E ESTATÍSTICA - IBGE. Produção da Pecuária Municipal 2007. Disponível em: <> Acesso em: 10 jan. 2010.         [ Links ]

HAMILTON, R.G.M. Observation on the changes in the physical characteristics the influence egg shell quality in the strains of white Leghorn. Poultry Science, v.57, p.1192-1198, 1978.         [ Links ]

LIMA, M.R.; SILVA, J.H.V. Efeito da relação lisina:arginina digestível sobre o desempenho de poedeiras comerciais no período de postura. Revista Acta Veterinaria Brasilica, v.1, n.4, p.118-124, 2007.         [ Links ]

LOBATO, G.B.V.; COSTA, F.G.P. Exigência de arginina digestível para codornas japonesas nas fases de crescimento e postura. In: ENCONTRO DE INICIAÇÃO CIENTÍFICA DA UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DA PARAÍBA, 17., 2009, Areias. Anais... Areias: UFPB, 2009. p.373.         [ Links ]

MOURA, G.S.; BARRETO, S.L.T.; DONZELE, J.L. et al. Dietas de diferentes densidades energéticas mantendo constante a relação energia metabolizável:nutrientes para codornas japonesas em postura. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, v.37 n.9, p.1628-1633, 2008.         [ Links ]

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL - NRC. Nutrient requirements of poultry. Washington: National Academy of Sciences, 1994. 155p.         [ Links ]

OLIVEIRA, B.L. Manejo em granjas automatizadas de codornas de postura comercial. In: SIMPÓSIO INTERNACIONAL, 3.; CONGRESSO BRASILEIRO DE COTURNICULTURA, 2., 2007, Lavras. Anais... Lavras, 2004. p.91-96.         [ Links ]

OLIVEIRA, B.L. Manejo em granjas automatizadas de codornas de postura comercial. IN: SIMPOSIO INTERNACIONAL, 3.; CONGRESSO BRASILEIRO DE COTURNICULTURA, 2., 2007, Lavras. Anais... Lavras, 2007. p.11-16.         [ Links ]

PINHEIRO, S.R.; BARRETO, S.L.T.; ALBINO, L.F.T. et al. Efeito dos níveis de triptofano digestível em dietas para codornas japonesas em postura. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, v.37 n.6, p.1012-1016, 2008.         [ Links ]

REIS, R.S.; BARRETO, S.L.T.; MEDINA, P.M. et al. Desempenho de codornas japonesas alimentadas com dietas contendo diferentes relações de metionina mais cistina digestível com lisina digestível. In: REUNIÃO ANUAL DA SOCIEDADE BRASILEIRA DE ZOOTECNIA, 46., 2009, Maringá. Anais... Maringá: SBZ, 2009 (CD-ROM).         [ Links ]

ROSTAGNO, H.S.; ALBINO, L.F.T.; DONZELE, J.L. et al. Tabelas brasileiras para aves e suínos: composição de alimentos e exigências nutricionais. Viçosa, MG: Editora UFV, 2005. 183p.         [ Links ]

UMIGI, R.T.; BARRETO, S.L.T.; MESQUITA FILHO, R.M. et al. Exigência de treonina digestível para codorna japonesa em postura. In: REUNIÃO ANUAL DA SOCIEDADE BRASILEIRA DE ZOOTECNIA, 45., 2008, Lavras. Anais... Lavras: SBZ, 2008. (CD-ROM).         [ Links ]



Received April 19, 2010 and accepted June 1, 2011.



Corresponding author:

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License