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The effects of supplementing varying molecular weights of chitooligosaccharide on performance, selected microbial populations and nutrient digestibility in the weaned pig

  • A. M. Walsh (a1), T. Sweeney (a1), B. Bahar (a1), B. Flynn (a1) and J. V. O'Doherty (a1)...


An experiment (complete randomised design) was conducted to investigate the effects of supplementing different molecular weights (MW) of chitooligosaccharide (COS) on pig performance, selected microbial populations and nutrient digestibility post-weaning. A total of 396 weaned piglets (24 days of age, 7.3 kg ± (s.d.) 1.7 kg live weight) were assigned to one of six dietary treatments (22 replicates/treatment) for a 33-day experimental period. The dietary treatments were as follows (1) control diet (0 ppm COS), (2) control diet plus <1 kDa COS, (3) control diet plus 3 to 5 kDa COS, (4) control diet plus 5 to 10 kDa COS, (5) control diet plus 10 to 50 kDa COS and (6) control diet plus 50 to 100 kDa COS. The COS were included at 250 ppm in the diets. There was no significant effect of dietary treatment on piglet performance during the starter period (days 0 to 18; P > 0.05). However, there were quadratic responses in both daily gain (P < 0.05) and gain to feed ratio (P < 0.05) to the increased MW of COS inclusion during the weaner period (days 18 to 33) with all COS-supplemented treatments improving daily gain and gain to feed ratio compared with the control. There was a quadratic response in faecal scoring to the increased MW of COS inclusion from days 0 to 7 (P < 0.001), days 7 to 14 (P < 0.001) and during the overall experimental period (P < 0.01) with all the COS-supplemented treatments having an improved faecal score compared with the control. During the weaner period, there was a cubic response in lactic acid bacteria and Escherichia coli populations as the MW of COS increased (P < 0.05). The 5 to 10 kDa and 10 to 50 kDa COS increased lactic acid bacteria populations compared with the control, whereas lactic acid bacteria populations decreased at 50 to 100 kDa. The 5 to 10 kDa, 10 to 50 kDa and 50 to 100 kDa COS decreased E. coli populations compared with the control. There was a cubic response in the apparent total tract digestibility of dry matter (DM; P < 0.01), organic matter (OM; P < 0.01), ash (P < 0.01), nitrogen (N; P < 0.01) and gross energy (GE; P < 0.01) to the increased MW of COS inclusion during the weaner period. The 5 to 10 kDa COS had a higher apparent total tract digestibility of DM, OM, ash, N and GE in comparison to the control, whereas the apparent total tract nutrient digestibility of these nutrients decreased at 10 to 50 kDa. The current results indicate that the MW ranges of 5 to 10 kDa and 10 to 50 kDa COS decreased E. coli numbers while increasing nutrient digestibility of the diets.


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