Evaluation of the energetic contribution from gut fermentation in growing pigs
The aim of this study was to evaluate the growth supporting value of DE derived from gut fermentation in growing pigs. Unmolassed sugar beet pulp (SBP) was selected as a model material for fermentation. For a reference material which would be digested in the small intestine by the endogenous enzymes, maize starch (MS) was selected. A cereal-based control diet was formulated to fulfil the needs of pigs for all essential nutrients apart from energy. To this control diet, either SBP (150 & 300 g/kg) or MS (100 & 200 g/kg) were added. The study consisted of two phases. The first phase (digestion trial and growth trial) was devoted to studying the digestion of these diets and to comparing the effects on growth of pigs of the two DE sources (SBP and MS). The second phase was to determine the production of VFA resulting from the fermentation of SBP. Methods used included stoichiometric calculations based on measurements of the molar proportions of VFA combined with CH4 production, and a direct assessment of the true fermented materials using antibiotics to suppress fermentation. The results of the first phase showed that the energy in SBP and MS had an apparent digestibility of 0.74 and 0.98. The DE from SBP was used for supporting carcass gain with an efficiency of 0.57 of the DE from MS. The results of the second phase indicated that measurements of methane production alone or even with inclusion of free hydrogen could underestimate the extent of fermentation in the gut of pigs. The results also suggest that with the cereal-based control diet, fermentation could supply up to 13.6% of the dietary DE in the form of VFA or 18.0% in the form of fermented energy. For this control diet incorporating 30% SBP, the respective values were 25.4% and 33.4%. The absorbed VFA resulting from the fermentation of SBP had a growth supporting value of 0.763 of that of absorbed glucose from MS.