Influence of feed bulk on physicochemical properties of digesta in pigs.
Physicochemical properties of fibre-based diets were used to determine the influence of feed bulk on physicochemical properties of digesta within each segment of the gastrointestinal tract and digesta in pigs. In the first experiment, three pigs (14 ± 1.2 kg body weight (BW) were allocated to each of six diets containing maize cob levels at 0, 80, 160, 240, 320 and 400 g/kg DM inclusion levels for four weeks. All pigs were fed ad libitum. They were slaughtered, eviscerated and weights of the gut compartments were recorded, then contents of digesta from each segment were sampled for the determination of water concentration, water holding capacity (WHC) and swelling capacity (SWC). The WHC of digesta in the stomach, ileum and caecum decreased (P < 0.05) with maize cob inclusion level. The SWC in the stomach decreased with the inclusion level of maize cob meal. The SWC of caecal digesta increased with maize cob inclusion (P < 0.05). Physicochemical properties of digesta increased (P < 0.05) from the stomach to ileum then decreased as the digesta moved through the hindgut. In the second experiment, four fibres namely maize cob, lucerne hay, sunflower husk and citrus pulp were used. These fibres were used in formulating diets for finishing pigs. Twenty-one complete diets were formulated by dilution of a conventional feed with increment levels of each fibre source at 0, 80, 160, 240, 320 and 400 g/kg. Each of the diets was offered ad libitum to four of 84 pigs weighing 80.8 ± 8.15 kg body weight, in individual pens, for 30 days. Stomach weights increased linearly with an increase in neutral detergent fibre (NDF) but increased with quadratic functions with an increase in SWC of the diet (P <0.05). An increase in WHC of the fibrous diets increased linearly the WHC of the proximal colon (P <0.01) at a faster rate compared to the WHC of the distal colon (P <0.001). As the SWC of the diets increased, linear increases in SWC of the digesta in the stomach (P <0.01) and caecum (P <0.001) were observed. The WHC of the digesta was negatively correlated to SWC (P < 0.001) in the stomach. Scaled feed intake (SFI) decreased linearly with an increase in SWC of the diet (P < 0.001). There was no relationship between WHC of the diet and SFI (P > 0.05). There was a linear decrease (P < 0.01) in SFI of finishing pigs as the SWC of the digesta. It can be concluded that the swelling capacity of the diets and stomach digesta in stomach are accurate predictors of scaled feed intake. Swelling capacity had great influence in the stomach weights whilst other bulking properties, such as WHC and neutral detergent fibre, affected the weight and digesta properties in the caecum, proximal and distal colon.