Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Influence of dietary fermentable carbohydrates and protein on intestinal properties and growth performance in weaned piglets

The effect of low and high dietary protein level and fermentable carbohydrates content on performance and intestinal characteristics of newly weaned piglets was studied in a 2x2 factorial arrangement.

Growth performance data were significantly affected by dietary treatments. In week 1-2 post weaning daily gain and gain/feed were reduced by an increase in fermentable carbohydrate content in the low protein diet. In the high protein diet however, growth performance was slightly (ns) improved by an increase in fermentable carbohydrates. The increase in dietary protein reduced growth performance in the low but not in the high fermentable carbohydrate diet.

These results suggest an increase in either crude protein or fermentable carbohydrates can negatively influence growth performance of the piglets. However, the combination of an increase in both nutrients may compensate for these negative effects on growth performance. In week 3-4 post weaning both an increase in crude protein and/or an increase in fermentable fibre reduced feed intake and daily gain. The highest performance was realised on diets with a low crude protein and low fermentable carbohydrates content.

Characteristics of the digestive tract were determined on day 7 post weaning. The increase in fermentable carbohydrate content in the diet significantly increased the lactobacilli counts in the small intestine but not in the colon. In addition, fermentable carbohydrates reduced the content of total coliform bacteria in the jejunum and to a lesser extent in the colon, but only for the high protein diets. The ammonia content in the jejunum and to a lesser extent in the colon was increased by the increase in dietary crude protein.

The increase in fermentable carbohydrates reduced the ammonia content in both segments of the digestive tract and increased the lactic acid content in the jejunum but not in the ileum. In addition, the increase in fermentable carbohydrates increased the total VFA content in the colon, but not in the jejunum. The villus length and crypt depth were not significantly affected, although the crypt depth was slightly increased on the high fermentable carbohydrate diets.

The results of growth performance and digestive tract characteristics indicate that in newly weaned piglets the highest growth performance can probably be realised using diets with a low content of (fermentable) crude protein and fermentable carbohydrates. These diets limit microbial growth and fermentation in the digestive tract and as a result, dietary nutrients can be used by the piglet with lowest losses in the digestive tract.

However, the reduced microbial population may compromise the colonisation resistance of the piglet, making the animal more prone to pathogenic bacteria. An increase in dietary crude protein may increase the risk of multiplication of those bacteria. The present experiment shows that inclusion of fermentable carbohydrates stimulates growth of lactobacilli and production of lactic acid in the digestive tract and reduced the number of coliform bacteria.

As such, the inclusion of fermentable carbohydrates will likely improve the colonisation resistance of the piglets.

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Reported by

Schothorst Feed Research
Meerkoetenweg 26
8218 NA Lelystad
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