Paylean, a feed additive first sold to producers this summer, can increase lean muscle gain in hogs by 34 percent, according to Brian Richert assistant professor of animal science at Purdue University. The additive works by taking nutrients that would produce fat and reducing them to produce lean muscle, says Richert.

Paylean is the trade name for ractopamine hydrochloride, a pharmaceutical product that causes the hog’s metabolism to shift nutrients from fat to muscle growth. It is what’s known as a beta-agonist, which is not a steroid, antibiotic or biotechnology product.

The additive is a highly-water soluble compound, so it leaves the hog quickly, leaving no danger or benefit to people eating pork produced from Paylean-fed pigs. According to Allan Schinckel, professor of animal science, Purdue University, the additive has no effect on the end product’s nutritional quality, color, firmness, water retention or marbling.

Because Paylean reduces the subcutaneous fat and backfat, rather than the intramuscular fat, it produces leaner product while maintaining important palatability qualities.

Schinckel and Richert conducted research showing that lean growth during the last 90 pounds of weight gain prior to slaughter increased by an average of 34 percent for hogs fed a dosage of 20 parts per million. Hogs fed a dosage of 10 ppm increased lean growth by 23 percent. The percentages were consistent across all genetic lines, including high-lean lines.