A trial was conducted with twenty group-housed pregnant sows to study the adaptation in nutrient digestibility to a starch-rich diet or a diet with a high level of fermentable non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) during a time period of 6 weeks. The starch-rich diet was primarily composed of wheat, peas and tapioca, whereas soya bean hulls and sugar beet pulp, which both are highly fermentable NSP sources, were used to formulate the NSP-rich diet. The starch-rich diet and the NSP-rich diet were formulated to contain different levels of starch (298 vs. 78 g/kg) and fermentable NSP (100 vs. 300 g/kg), but a similar level of net energy (NE) (8.36 MJ/kg). The trial consisted of a 1-week adaptation period followed by a 5-week collection period. Weekly apparent faecal digestibilities of dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), crude fat, ash and NSP were measured by using the acid-insoluble ash marker method. Apparent faecal digestibilities of DM and organic matter (OM) of both diets were similar. Faecal digestibility of CP and crude fat was lower (p < 0.001) whereas that of NSP was higher (p < 0.001) for sows that received the NSP-rich diet. Calculated NE values of both diets were similar. Sows fed the NSP-rich diet produced faeces that contained a lower (p < 0.001) DM content compared with sows that were fed with the starch-rich diet. The quantity of dry faeces was the same on both diets, therefore total faeces production (as-is basis) was higher (p < 0.01) for the sows fed the NSP-rich diet. During the 5-week collection period, no changes were observed in the digestibility of DM, OM and NSP in the NE value of the diets. Digestibilities of CP and fat, however, were lower in week 1 (p < 0.05) compared with weeks 2-5 for both diets. The DM content of the faeces and the quantity of dry faeces did not change from weeks 1-5. Diet by time interaction was not observed for any of the response variables indicating that sows adapt as quickly to a diet with a high level of fermentable NSP as to a starch-rich diet. The present trial shows that, with regard to digestibility of nutrients, pregnant sows completely adapt to a NSP-rich diet (i.e., NSP from sugar beet pulp) in 2 weeks and that the time period necessary to adapt to a starch-rich diet or a diet with a high level of fermentable NSP is similar.
van der Peet-Schwering, C. M. C., Kemp, B., den Hartog, L. A., Schrama, J. W., & Verstegen, M. W. A. (2002). Adaptation to the digestion of nutrients of a starch diet or a non-starch polysaccharide diet in group-housed pregnant sows. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 86, 414-421. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1439-0396.2002.00398.x