Fibre-rich feed needs supplement

By Darek Gondor, Ontario Pork Newsletter - Adding fibrous ingredients to pig feed can substantially reduce the animal's ability to extract nutrients from its food, say Guelph researchers. They're creating feeds that are used efficiently by pigs, while going easy on the animal's well-being and environment.
calendar icon 19 March 2003
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March 2003 Newsletter

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Graduate students Julia Zhu and Aileen Libao, and Profs. Kees de Lange, Ming Fan, and Steve Leeson, Animal and Poultry Science, are studying dietary fibre's effects on lean tissue growth in the pig. They focused on how pigs use threonine - a critical amino acid, or building block of protein.

"We know high-fibre diets can reduce odour, improve gut health and possibly the animal's well-being," says de Lange. "However, negative effects fibre has on pigs should be considered as well."

In two studies, the researchers found dietary fibre supplements had negative effects on the growing pig's use of threonine. They saw a reduction in the pig's growth performance when fibre was increased.

The results indicate pig diets should be supplemented with threonine when fibrous ingredients such as wheat shorts are fed.

"We think bacteria in the pig's gut are stimulated when fibre is included in the diet," says de Lange. "Bacteria like to consume proteins that are high in threonine content. Essentially, the microbes eat the amino acid before the pig gets a chance to," says de Lange.

He says this concept needs to be studied further and will become more relevant when the use of antibiotics in pig diets is reduced. Antibiotics generally reduce the activity of bacteria in the pig's gut, says de Lange.

This research was sponsored by Ontario Pork, Degussa AG, Agribrands/Cargill and the OMAF research program at the University of Guelph

Source: Ontario Pork, March 2003

Darek Gondor is a writer with the University of Guelph's SPARK student writing program.

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