The publication we are sharing today is a collaboration between the Department of Animal Science, the Department of Food Science and nutrition and the West Central Outreach and Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is published in open access in the journal Translational Animal Science.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential use of microalgae extract (MAE) as a feed ingredient in nursery pig diets.
300 weaned pigs were selected, blocked by initial body weight and allotted to 60 pens, with five pigs per pen. Ratio of gilts and barrows was balanced evenly. Pens within blocks were assigned randomly to one of five dietary treatments.
Dietary treatments included:
- corn and soybean meal (CON),
- CON with 1% MAE,
- CON with 5% MAE,
- CON with 10% MAE
- CON with 20% MAE.
Diets were formulated to meet the nutrient requirements of nursery pigs and fed using a 3-phase program, where each phase consisted of a 2-wk period.
Average Daily Gain (ADG), Average Daily Feed Intake (ADFI) and Gain to Feed (G:F) were measured weekly.
After 42 days, 30 pigs were harvested and intestinal samples were collected to measure mucosal length and goblet cell quantifications.
Final body weight of pigs among pens consuming MAE was greatest when consuming 1, 5, or 10% MAE compared with those fed the control diet, but feeding 20% MAE was not different from the control diet. The greater final body weight appeared to be the result of greater ADG from days 1 and 7, due to a higher ADFI.
There was no effect of feeding MAE on G:F during most weigh periods except during days 15 to 21 when G:F increased in pigs fed MAE.
Feeding diets with MAE did not result in changes in intestinal architecture measured by the height of the intestinal mucosal or presence of mucus-producing cells in the jejunum. In contrast, the ileum of pigs fed the 5% MAE diet tended to have reduced mucosal height compared with that of pigs fed 20% MAE diet. Goblet cell area of the ileum was not affected by dietary treatments.