Separation of digesta fractions complicates estimation of ileal digestibility using marker methods with Cr2O3 and Co-EDTA in broiler chickens

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Marker methodologies to measure ileal and total tract digestibilities of diets varying in content and degradability of dietary fiber in broiler chickens were evaluated. Chromium sesquioxide (Cr2O3) and cobalt-ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (Co-EDTA) were used as markers of solid and soluble fractions, respectively, and compared with digestibility values obtained with the total collection method. Groups of broilers (n = 17, 11 broilers/group) were assigned to a low-fiber diet or 1 of 2 high-fiber diets, the latter 2 containing 35% rapeseed meal (RSM). Pectolytic enzymes were added to one RSM diet to improve degradability of the fiber fraction. Excreta were quantitatively collected for 96 h, and contents from ileum and ceca were collected at slaughter at 29, 30, or 31 d of age. Chromium recovery in excreta ranged between 86 and 95%, whereas cobalt recovery was considerably lower (66 to 70%). Chromium:cobalt ratio was higher in ileal digesta than in feed. Hardly any chromium was found in the ceca, indicating that separation of the marker and specific digesta fractions occurs. Estimates of apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) were lower when calculated using the marker method compared with the total collection method, particularly in high-fiber diets. Using Cr2O3 as a marker, differences were relatively small and effects due to enzyme addition were generally similar. Using Co-EDTA as a marker, ATTD of all components were lower compared with values obtained using the collection method (3 to 45 percentage units, P <0.001), likely related to the low Co recovery. When estimating apparent ileal digestibility (AID), separation of marker and digesta resulted in unrealistically high estimates for the digestibility of nonglucose polysaccharides (54 to 66%), exceeding ATTD values by 16 to 42 percentage units. Moreover, the effect of pectolytic enzyme addition on the AID of nonglucose polysaccharides was in the opposite direction when compared with total collection. The data illustrate that fractionation of digesta, particularly in high-fiber diets, complicates accurate AID measurements in broilers, regardless of the choice of markers used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2017
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • atomic-absorption spectrophotometry
  • gastrointestinal transit-time
  • carboxy methyl cellulose
  • nonstarch polysaccharides
  • soluble polysaccharide
  • feed ingredients
  • amino-acids
  • avian ceca
  • tract
  • food

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