Interpretive Summary: Effects of dietary fiber sources during late gestation and lactation on sow performance, milk quality, and intestinal health in piglets
By: Anne Wallace
Dietary fiber can have a profound effect on the health of animals by modulating inflammatory factors and the intestinal microbiome. The authors of this December 2019 study published in the Journal of Animal Science added two types of dietary fiber to the diets of gestating sows. Their goal was to evaluate how these fibers affected sow performance, milk quality, and the intestinal health of their piglets.
Sows were fed one of three diets: a corn-soybean based control diet, a control diet with 20% sugar beet pulp (SBP) during gestation and 10% during lactation, and the control diet with 30% wheat bran (WB) during gestation and 15% during lactation.
The SBP and WB fiber diets were more beneficial to sows and piglets, compared to the control diet. The authors reported SBP having a more profound effect on sow milk quality, performance and the intestinal health of their piglet offspring, compared to WB. Piglet intestinal health improved with reduction in pro-inflammatory factors and an increase in anti-inflammatory factors and immunoglobulin A. Increases in the short-chain fatty acid butyrate and the bacterial genus Christensenellaceae, both which are associated with health in animals and humans, were also noted in the colon of sows fed SPB.
Overall, this study suggests that addition of dietary fiber to the diets of gestating sows can have a notable effect on their performance, milk quality and the health of their piglets. In this study, SBP was found to be more beneficial than WB fiber, however it is possible that other types of dietary fiber, or mixtures of dietary fiber may have different effects. More studies looking at the effects of dietary fiber on gestating sows and their piglets is warranted.