An in vitro batch culture method to assess potential fermentability of feed ingredients for monogastric diets

B.A. Williams, M.W. Bosch, H. Boer, M.W.A. Verstegen, S. Tamminga

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129 Citations (Scopus)


Interest in fermentation within the monogastric digestive tract is growing, particularly relative to animal health. This is of particular importance in relation to the forthcoming European ban on inclusion of anti-microbial growth promotors in animal diets. Fermentable carbohydrates are recognized as having an important role in fermentation in the monogastric digestive tract, and are often added to diets without having been examined for their actual fermentability, particularly in relation to the target animal. We describe an in vitro method to assess feed ingredients, as potential components of monogastric diets, which stimulate a positive fermentation (i.e., ones which will be well fermented and produce more short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and less ammonia). This technique requires use of a batch culture containing the test substrate and an inoculum of appropriate origin. During fermentation, cumulative gas production is measured at regular intervals, as an indicator of kinetics of the reaction. When fermentation is complete, organic matter losses and end-products such as SCFA and ammonia, are measured. This paper illustrates use of the technique with 45 carbohydrate-based ingredients using faeces from unweaned piglets as inoculum. By assessing potential fermentability of a large number of ingredients, it is possible to make an informed choice as to which substrates are most suited for inclusion in a diet. By combining results with information about transit time, diets can be designed which should stimulate desirable fermentation along the entire digestive tract. In vitro fermentability is a potentially valuable characteristic in diet design, in order to stimulate microbial activity in the digestive tract.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-462
Number of pages18
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • chain fatty-acid
  • gas-production
  • rumen fluid
  • fermentation kinetics
  • detergent fiber
  • ruminant feeds
  • prebiotics
  • excretion
  • substrate
  • bacteria

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