Feed intake patterns nor growth rates of pigs are affected by dietary resistant starch, despite marked differences in digestion

R.J.J. Van Erp*, S. De Vries, T.A.T.G. Van Kempen, L.A. Den Hartog, W.J.J. Gerrits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Current feed evaluation systems often assume that fermented starch (i.e. resistant starch (RS)) yields less energy than digested starch. However, growth rates of pigs fed low and high RS diets are often the same when feed is available ad libitum. This may be explained by its effect on digestive processes changing feeding behavior, and consequently energy utilization. This study aims to investigate the effect of RS on nutrient digestion and digesta passage rate in pigs, in combination with its effect on feeding behavior and growth performance under ad libitum conditions. In experiment 1, 20 male pigs (40 ± 2.82 kg) were fed diets containing either 50% waxy maize starch (low in RS (LRS)) or high-amylose maize starch (high in RS (HRS)), and soluble and insoluble indigestible markers. After 14 days of adaptation to the diets, pigs were fed hourly to reach steady state (6 h), dissected, and digesta were collected from eight segments. From the collected samples, nutrient digestion and passage rate of the solid and liquid digesta fraction were determined. In experiment 2, 288 pigs (80 ± 0.48 kg; sex ratio per pen 1: 1; boar: gilt) were housed in groups of 6. Pigs were ad libitum-fed one of the experimental diets, and slaughtered at approximately 115 kg. Feed intake, growth and carcass parameters were measured. Ileal starch digestibility was greater for LRS-fed than for HRS-fed pigs (98.0% v. 74.0%; P < 0.001), where the additional undigested starch in HRS-fed pigs was fermented in the large intestine. No effects of RS on digesta passage rate of the solid or liquid digesta fraction and on feeding behavior were observed. Growth rate and feed intake did not differ between diets, whereas feed efficiency of HRS-fed pigs was 1%-unit higher than that of LRS-fed pigs (P = 0.041). The efficiency of feed used for carcass gain did not differ between diets indicating that the difference in feed efficiency was determined by the non-carcass fraction. Despite a 30% greater RS intake (of total starch) with HRS than with LRS, carcass gain and feed efficiency used for carcass gain were unaffected. RS did not affect digesta passage rate nor feeding behavior suggesting that the difference in energy intake between fermented and digested starch is compensated for post-absorptively. Our results indicate that the net energy value of fermented starch currently used in pig feed evaluation systems is underestimated and should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1412
Issue number7
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • digesta passage rate
  • feeding behavior
  • fermented starch
  • net energy value
  • swine


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