Dietary fiber content and composition affect microbial composition and activity in the gut, which in turn influence energetic contribution of fermentation products to the metabolic energy supply in pigs. This may affect feed efficiency (FE) in pigs. The present study investigated the relationship between the fecal microbial composition and FE in individual growing-finishing pigs. In addition, the effects of diet composition and sex on the fecal microbiome were studied. Fecal samples were collected of 154 grower-finisher pigs (3-way crossbreeds) the day before slaughter. Pigs were either fed a diet based on corn/soybean meal (CS) or a diet based on wheat/barley/by-products (WB). Fecal microbiome was characterized by 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing, clustered by operational taxonomic unit (OTU), and results were subjected to a discriminant approach combined with principal component analysis to discriminate diets, sexes, and FE extreme groups (10 high and 10 low FE pigs for each diet by sex-combination). Pigs on different diets and males vs. females had a very distinct fecal microbiome, needing only 2 OTU for diet (P = 0.020) and 18 OTU for sex (P = 0.040) to separate the groups. The 2 most important OTU for diet, and the most important OTU for sex, were taxonomically classified as the same bacterium. In pigs fed the CS diet, there was no significant association between FE and fecal microbiota composition based on OTU (P > 0.05), but in pigs fed the WB diet differences in FE were associated with 17 OTU in males (P = 0.018) and to 7 OTU in females (P = 0.010), with 3 OTU in common for both sexes. In conclusion, our results showed a diet and sex-dependent relationship between FE and the fecal microbial composition at slaughter weight in grower-finisher pigs.
- Fecal microbiome
- Feed efficiency