Animal Science

Research Article

Differential effects of feeding fermentable carbohydrate to growing pigs on performance, gut size and slaughter characteristics

J. R. Pluskea1 p1, D. W. Pethicka1 and B. P. Mullana2

a1 Division of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia

a2 Animal Research and Development Services, Agriculture Western Australia, Locked Bag No. 4, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia


Thirty-five gilts grown between 18 and 55 kg live weight were used to examine the effects of feeding fermentable carbohydrate on voluntary food intake, performance, carcass characteristics, and large intestinal growth. Five diets were used. The first diet contained steam-flaked sorghum and a supplement based on animal protein sources and 40 g/kg soya-bean meal (diet SAP). Using this diet as a base, three other diets contained either (i) guar gum, a source of soluble non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) (diet SAP + S-NSP), (ii) Novelose™, a source of resistant starch (RS) (diet SAP + RS), and (Hi) a combination of both S-NSP and RS (diet SAP + S-NSP + RS). The final diet (diet WBL) was based on wheat, barley and Australian sweet lupins. Diets (i), (ii) and (Hi) were formulated such that the concentrations of soluble NSP, oligosaccharide and RS were similar to those contained in diet WBL. There was no relationship (F > 0·05) between voluntary food intake and indices of hind-gut fermentation, although pigs given diets SAP + S-NSP and SAP + S-NSP + RS took longer to reach the slaughter weight of 55 kg (F < 0·001) and converted food less efficiently than pigs given other diets (F < 0·001). An increased intake of S-NSP (R2 = 0·842, P < 0·05) and S-NSP + RS (R2 = 0·805, F < 0·05) was positively correlated to an increased (empty) weight of the large intestine. A significant negative relationship (R2 = 0·78, F < 0·05) existed between the daily intake of S-NSP + RS and dressing proportion, such that each gram increase caused a 0·25 g/kg decrease in the dressing proportion of pigs. No such relationships existed between the daily intake of soluble NSP, insoluble NSP, or RS (P > 0·05) with dressing proportion. These data suggest that the sources of fermentable carbohydrate used in this study, i.e. soluble NSP and RS, may not significantly depress voluntary food intake but can affect performance and have a significant effect on large intestinal growth and dressing proportion.

(Received November 20 1997)

(Accepted February 25 1998)


  • carbohydrates;
  • carcass composition;
  • food intake;
  • large intestine;
  • pigs


p1 Present address for corresponding author: Monogastric Research Centre, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand