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Evaluation of dietary fiber in health challenged nursery pigs

Miller, K., O. Mendoza, C. Shull E. Burrough, J. Spencer and N. Gabler

Enteric pathogens often antagonize nursery pig health, growth performance, and scouring. Increased dietary fiber may alleviate bacterial pathogen burdens via improving intestinal health, fecal consistency, binding of pathogens, and improving early post-weaned growth performance. Therefore, our objective was to evaluate the effect of three dietary fiber sources on growth performance, digestibility, and fecal consistency in nursery pigs undergoing an F18 enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) challenge. The study was conducted with 541 newly weaned pigs (starting BW of 5.9 ± 1.25 kg) in a complete randomized design with four dietary treatments (n = 12 pens/treatment, 11-12 pigs/pen), fed over three phases. Phase 1 (day 0 – 14) and 2 (day 15 – 28) treatments included: 1) corn-soybean meal-based diet with no addition of fiber source (CON); 2) corn-soybean meal-based diet + 15 and 7.50% oat groats (phase 1 and 2, respectively) (Oats); 3) corn-soybean meal-based diet + 5% soyhulls (Soyhulls); and 4) corn-soybean meal-based diet + 5% wheat bran (Wheat Bran). All pens were fed a common Phase 3 (day 29 – 48) corn-soybean meal-based diet. At placement, 12 pigs were sacrificed for baseline evaluation and pigs were confirmed positive for K88 E. coli and Rotavirus A. On day 14 (dpi 0), all pigs were orally drenched with ~5 mL F18 ETEC inoculum suspended in Luria broth. On day 21 of the study (dpi 7), 1 pig/pen was euthanized to examine the effects of diet on intestinal health including histopathology assessment of attachment of E. coli, coccidia, villus atrophy, and colitis. Pig BW and pen feed disappearance were recorded weekly from day 0 – 28, and day 48 to calculate ADG, ADFI, and feed efficiency (G:F). Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS with pen as the experimental unit and the fixed effect of treatment. There were no differences in ADG, ADFI, or G:F in phase 1 or phase 2 when pigs were fed Oats, Soyhulls, or Wheat Bran when compared to CON (P > 0.05). Overall nursery ADG (0.43 vs. 0.41, 0.42, 0.40 kg/d, respectively), ADFI (0.67 vs. 0.67, 0.68, 0.64 kg/d, respectively), and G:F (0.55 vs. 0.55, 0.55, 0.55, respectively) were not different from CON when pigs were fed either Oat, Soyhulls, or Wheat Bran (P > 0.05). Pigs fed Oats had a decreased fecal nitrogen content compared to CON, Soyhulls, and Wheat Bran (P < 0.05) and no differences in dry matter, organic matter, or gross energy (P > 0.05). Although scouring was observed, fecal consistency scores did not differ between dietary treatments.

Growth performance and fecal score data from this study indicate no additional benefit of a diet containing oat groats, soyhulls, or wheat bran to nursery pigs undergoing naturally endemic and controlled enteric health challenges.