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Interpretive Summary: Impacts of high amylopectin starch cassava on plasma glucose and the growth performance of pigs

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Low protein (LP) livestock diets are frequently supplemented with synthesized crystalline amino acids. Because synthesized amino acids are absorbed much more rapidly than starch can be digested and absorbed as glucose, the discrepancy in amino acid and glucose synchronization may negatively impact animal growth and performance. The addition of more rapidly digestible starches, noted by a higher amylopectin to amylose ratio, may resolve this incongruity in release and absorption of glucose from starch and amino acids from synthesized amino acids. 

In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, researchers evaluated how cassava, a high amylopectin starch, impacted the performance and other metabolic parameters of growing pigs. Pigs were fed either a corn-soybean meal LP diet, a corn-cassava-soybean meal LP diet, or a cassava-soybean meal LP diet. Results indicated that feeding pigs diets containing cassava led to rapid digestion of starch and subsequent rapid release of glucose from starch, with the most dramatic effect seen in the cassava-soybean meal LP diet. In addition to increasing the postprandial glucose, appetite was increased due to lower fasting insulin, glucagon, and leptin. Nitrogen efficiency and weight also increased. Negative impacts of the cassava-soybean meal LP diet included increased gas production and diarrhea.

Overall, the results of this study suggest that cassava starch has a more rapid rate of glucose release when compared to low amylopectin starches, like corn. The increased appetite of animals in this study also suggests that cassava may possibly benefit growth performance. Further studies into how high amylopectin starches (such as cassava) impacts the growth and performance of pigs fed synthesized crystalline amino acids is fully justified. Furthermore, research into the usefulness of cassava and other high amylopectin starches in pigfeed may also be an area of interest.   

The original article, Effects of using cassava as an amylopectin source in low protein diets on growth performance, nitrogen efficiency, and postprandial changes in plasma glucose and related hormones concentrations of growing pigs, is viewable in the Journal of Animal Science.