Effects of physicochemical properties of fibrous feed on feeding behaviour and gut health of growing and finishing pigs.
Bakare, Archibold Garikayi.
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The broad objective of the study was to determine feeding behaviour and gut health of pigs fed different fibres at varying inclusion levels. Maize cob, maize stover, sunflower hulls, veld grass, sawdust, lucerne and dried citrus pulp were used in growing and finishing pig diets to provide a wide range of physicochemical properties. Time spent eating, drinking, lying down, sitting/standing and other activities was observed using video cameras. Blood samples were collected at the end of the trial for both growing and finishing pigs for analysis of glycated haemoglobin, albumin, globulin, total protein, creatine kinase, urea and uric acid. Intestinal segments were collected at the end of trial for growing pigs to determine mucosal architecture of the intestines. Digestible energy (DE), bulk density (BD), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and water holding capacity (WHC) were the most important variables predicting time spent on different behavioural activities in growing pigs (P < 0.001). Water holding capacity, neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and ADF were the most important variables involved in predicting time spent on different behavioural activities in finishing pigs (P < 0.001). Physicochemical properties influenced time spent on different behavioural activities and they provided relationships with time spent on different behavioural activities in both growing and finishing pigs. Glycated haemoglobin, albumin, globulin, total protein and uric acid were factors that influenced time spent eating in growing pigs (P < 0.05). In finishing pigs, only serum total protein was selected as the best predictor variable influencing time spent eating (P < 0.05). The blood metabolites were correlated with time spent eating and drinking. They provided threshold values with time spent eating and drinking by pig. Hence, they can also be used as potential biomarkers that modulate neuronal pathways which reduce time spent eating and drinking. In this study, bulk density (BD) and NDF were the best predictor variables influencing villi height (VH) and apparent villi surface area (AVSA) in pigs (P < 0.05). Grouped pigs fed fibrous diet spent more time eating, lying down, standing, walking and fighting (P < 0.05). Skin lesions appeared the most on neck and shoulder region followed by chest, stomach and hind leg region, and finally head region (P < 0.05). Fibrous diet did not reduce aggressive behaviours, rather aggressive behaviours emanated out of frustration when queuing at the feeder. It was concluded that physicochemical properties of fibrous diets and nutritionally-related blood metabolites influence feeding behaviour. Mucosal architecture was also influenced by physicochemical properties of the fibrous diets.