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Effects of Particle Size of Barley on Intestinal Morphology, Growth Performance and Nutrient Digestibility in Pigs

  • Morel, P.C.H. ;
  • Cottam, Y.H.
  • Received : 2006.11.10
  • Accepted : 2007.05.14
  • Published : 2007.11.01

Abstract

A growth trial and a digestibility trial were conducted to examine the effect of feed particle size on the performance, nutrient digestibility, gastric ulceration and intestinal morphology in pigs fed barley-based diets. Barley was processed through a hammer mill to achieve four diets varying in particle size (average particle $size{\pm}standard $deviation): coarse ($1,100{\pm}2.19\;{\mu}m$), medium ($785{\pm}2.23\;{\mu}m$), fine ($434{\pm}1.70\;{\mu}m$) and mixed (1/3 of coarse, medium and fine) ($789{\pm}2.45\;{\mu}m$). Sixty-four entire male pigs were used in the growth trial and the diets were fed ad libitum between 31 kg and 87 kg live weight. Following slaughter, stomach and ileal tissues were scored for integrity (ulceration or damage) and histological measurements taken. Twenty-four entire male pigs were used in the digestibility trial, which involved total faecal collection. Over the entire growth phase, there were no differences (p>0.05) in average daily gain and feed conversion ratio between pigs fed diets of different particle size. Pigs fed the coarse and medium diets had lower (p<0.05) stomach ulceration scores (0.20 and 0.25, respectively, on a scale from 0 to 3) than those fed the mixed (0.69) or the fine diets (1.87). The stomachs of all animals fed the fine diet had lesions and stomach ulcerations were present only in this group. Pigs fed the fine diet had thicker (p<0.001) ileal epithelial cell layer with no differences (p>0.05) being observed for villous height or crypt depth. Faecal digestibility coefficients of neutral and acid detergent fibre were the highest (p<0.05) for the mixed diet, intermediate for the fine and coarse diets and the lowest for the medium diet. A similar numerical trend (p = 0.103) was observed for the apparent faecal energy digestibility coefficient. It is concluded that, with barley based diets, a variation in average particle size between $400{\mu}m$ and $1,100{\mu}m$ had no effect on pig performance but the fine dietary particle size affected the integrity of the stomach, as well as the structure of the small intestine, thus compromising overall gut health. Our data also demonstrate that changes in particle size distribution during the digestion process, rather than average particle size or particle size variation, are related to apparent faecal digestibility.

Keywords

Pig;Particle Size;Intestinal Morphology;Barley

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