Research Article

Feeding different types of cooked white rice to piglets after weaning influences starch digestion, digesta and fermentation characteristics and the faecal shedding of β-haemolytic Escherichia coli

John R. Pluskea1 c1, Lucile Montagnea2, Fiona S. Cavaneya1, Bruce P. Mullana3, David W. Pethicka1 and David J. Hampsona1

a1 School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia

a2 INRA, UMR SENAH, INRA/Agrocampus Rennes, CS 84215, 65 Rue St Brieuc, Rennes, F-35042, France

a3 Animal Research and Development Services, Department of Agriculture, Locked Bag No. 4, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983, Australia


Forty-eight, 21-d-old pigs were used to examine the effects of different types of cooked white rice on starch digestion, digesta and fermentation characteristics, shedding of β-haemolytic Escherichia coli and performance after weaning. Pigs received one of three rice-based diets: (i) medium-grain Amaroo (AM), (ii) long-grain Doongara (DOON), and (iii) waxy (WAXY). The remainder of the diet consisted predominantly of animal proteins. A fourth diet contained mainly wheat, barley and lupins (WBL). On days 1, 3, 7 and 9 after weaning, a faecal swab was taken for assessment of β-haemolytic E. coli and faecal consistency. Apparent digestibility of starch measured in the ileum 14 d after weaning was highest (P = 0·004) in AM and WAXY and lowest, but the same (P>0·05), in DOON and WBL. Starch digestibility in the rectum was highest in all rice diets (P < 0·001). Digesta viscosity was highest in pigs fed WBL in both the ileum (P < 0·001) and caecum (P = 0·027). Pigs fed rice generally had lighter (P < 0·05) gastrointestinal organs than pigs fed WBL. Performance of pigs was similar for all treatments; however, pigs fed rice-based diets had a higher (P < 0·001) carcass percentage than pigs fed WBL. Pigs fed WBL produced more acid (P < 0·05) but had lower molar proportions of acetate (P < 0·05), isobutyrate (P < 0·01) and isovalerate (P < 0·001) and a higher molar proportion of butyrate (P < 0·01) in the large intestine than pigs fed rice. Shedding of E. coli was low; however, pigs fed AM and WBL shed less E. coli than pigs fed other diets.

(Received November 02 2005)

(Revised October 02 2006)

(Accepted October 05 2006)


c1 *Associate Professor John Pluske, fax +61 89 360 6628,


Abbreviations: AM, medium-grain Amaroo diet; DE, digestible energy; DF, dietary fibre; DOON, long-grain Doongara diet; EBW, empty body weight; PWC, post-weaning colibacillosis; RS, resistant starch; VFA, volatile fatty acid; WAXY, waxy Double Elephant diet; WBL, wheat, barley and lupin diet