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Effects of fermentable starch and straw-enriched housing on energy partitioning of growing pigs

  • J. E. Bolhuis (a1), H. van den Brand (a1), S. T. M. Staals (a2), T. Zandstra (a3), S. J. J. Alferink (a3), M. J. W. Heetkamp (a1) and W. J. J. Gerrits (a3)...

Both dietary fermentable carbohydrates and the availability of straw bedding potentially affect activity patterns and energy utilisation in pigs. The present study aimed to investigate the combined effects of straw bedding and fermentable carbohydrates (native potato starch) on energy partitioning in growing pigs. In a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement, 16 groups of 12 pigs (approximately 25 kg) were assigned to either barren housing or housing on straw bedding, and to native or pregelatinised potato starch included in the diet. Pigs were fed at approximately 2.5 times maintenance. Nitrogen and energy balances were measured per group during a 7-day experimental period, which was preceded by a 30-day adaptation period. Heat production and physical activity were measured during 9-min intervals. The availability of straw bedding increased both metabolisable energy (ME) intake and total heat production (P < 0.001). Housing conditions did not affect total energy retention, but pigs on straw bedding retained more energy as protein (P < 0.01) and less as fat (P < 0.05) than barren-housed pigs. Average daily gain (P < 0.001), ME intake (P < 0.001) and energy retention (P < 0.01) were lower in pigs on the native potato starch diet compared to those on the pregelatinised potato starch diet. Pigs on the pregelatinised potato starch diet showed larger fluctuations in heat production and respiration quotient over the 24-h cycle than pigs on the native potato starch diet, and a higher activity-related energy expenditure. The effect of dietary starch type on activity-related heat production depended, however, on housing type (P < 0.05). In barren housing, activity-related heat production was less affected by starch type (16.1% and 13.7% of total heat production on the pregelatinised and native potato starch diet, respectively) than in straw-enriched housing (21.1% and 15.0% of the total heat production on the pregelatinised and native potato starch diet, respectively). In conclusion, the present study shows that the availability both of straw bedding and of dietary starch type, fermentable or digestible, affects energy utilisation and physical activity of pigs. The effects of housing condition on protein and fat deposition suggest that environmental enrichment with long straw may result in leaner pigs. The lower energy expenditure on the physical activity of pigs on the native potato starch diet, which was the most obvious in straw-housed pigs, likely reflects a decrease in foraging behaviour related to a more gradual supply of energy from fermentation processes.

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