Swine researchers seek answers to fiber's low digestibility

Sep 08, 2010

As interest grows in feeding distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to growing pigs, many questions are being asked about the digestibility of this alternative feed option.

"Previous research shows that while the amount of energy in DDGS is greater than that of corn, pigs have lower digestibility of energy in DDGS than in corn," said Hans H. Stein, U of I associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. "Our goal was to find out why."

Stein's team wanted to develop a greater understanding of the digestibility differences between DDGS and corn. He said the biggest difference between corn and DDGS is fiber content. Fiber contributes to the total energy in DDGS, but not much is known about how pigs utilize the fiber in DDGS.

"We want to find ways to improve the utilization of this energy source in a swine diet," he said. "But first we need to understand the role of fiber in DDGS."

Our research demonstrated that overall, the utilization of fiber in DDGS is low - less than 50 percent. Fiber is characterized as soluble or insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber consists of pectins, some hemicelluloses and some oligosaccharides, Stein said.

"Soluble fiber will change the viscosity of the digesta in the while absorbing water and becoming easily fermentable in the intestinal tract," he added.

On the other hand, insoluble fiber will not dissolve in solution and is made up of the hardest part of the plant such as cellulose and lignin. These do not change viscosity in the intestinal tract and they are the most difficult to .

" utilize soluble fiber very well, almost 90 percent," Stein said. "Unfortunately, most of the fiber in DDGS is insoluble and has a much lower digestibility. This is the reason for the low digestibility of the combined fiber fraction in DDGS. However, if we can do anything to change the solubility of fiber and make it more soluble, we know we can increase the utilization of it."

From a practical standpoint, DDGS's higher insoluble fiber content means more undigested material goes straight into the manure, which in turn creates more manure management issues for producers.

"If there is a higher fiber content in the manure, it creates a thicker slurry which could lead to more solids in the pit," said Matthew Robert, U of I visiting research engineer in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. "This requires the pit to agitate the slurry for a longer period of time to get the solids moving so it can be pumped out. If more solids are left in the pit after it's pumped, it results in less storage for the future."

In addition, Stein's study also opened doors to new research methods.

"We know that fiber could be measured in many ways," Stein said. "One of the standard methods of measurement, Total Dietary Fiber (TDF), is very expensive. We found a less expensive procedure, Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), to be quite effective and very closely correlated to TDF."

In future research projects, this finding can help save money and make research dollars stretch further to help swine producers.

Stein's team is continuing to look for ways to increase the solubility of fiber and in turn, find new ways to require less feed to produce one pound of gain.

Explore further: Sexual selection isn't the last word on bird plumage, study shows

More information: This research titled, "Digestibility of dietary fiber in distillers coproducts fed to growing pigs," was published in the Journal of Animal Science by Pedro E. Urriola et al.

Related Stories

Ethanol co-product boosts nutrition in Asian flatbread

May 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- South Dakota State University research shows a traditional Asian flatbread called chapathi, or chapati, gets a big boost in protein and fiber when fortified with food-grade distillers grains.

Ethanol byproduct produces green results

Jul 02, 2008

Commercial flower and plant growers know all too well that invasive, ubiquitous weeds cause trouble by lowering the value and deterring healthy growth of potted ornamental plants. To control weeds, many commercial ...

Recommended for you

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

20 minutes ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

20 minutes ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

Hunting for living fossils in Indonesian waters

50 minutes ago

The Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis) was thought to be extinct for more than 60 million years and took the science world by storm in 1938 when it was re-discovered living in South Africa. This fish has ...

An elephant never forgets the way to the watering hole

2 hours ago

A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B tracked the movement of elephants across the African savannah. The elephants chose the shortest distances towards watering holes, pin-pointing the lo ...

A peek at the secret life of pandas

Mar 27, 2015

Reclusive giant pandas fascinate the world, yet precious little is known about how they spend their time in the Chinese bamboo forests. Until now.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.