Selecting xylanase to improve FCR in corn-based finisher diets

Published Friday, 15th April 2016

by Dr Casey Bradley, AB Vista Technical Manager

With feed making up 70% of the production costs in swine, technologies that can improve feed efficiency remain crucial to lowering the overall cost of production. Fibre-degrading enzymes are becoming more of a focus for pig producers in corn-based rations, given their capacity to increase nutrient digestion and consequently, animal performance.

The application of such enzymes – of which xylanases are the most commonly used and efficacious – has historically focused on pig diets containing viscous grains, such as wheat and barley. However, the results of recent pig trials have shown a six point improvement in FCRc (weight corrected) in finisher pigs fed corn-based diets supplemented with a single xylanase, Econase XT. This is particularly good news for producers feeding cheaper, less digestible diets to finisher pigs, demonstrating that a consistent response from xylanase application in non-viscous diets is achievable. In these trials, the enzyme was used from early nursery to slaughter - maximizing production improvements across the growth period.

The reason why Econase XT and potentially other xylanases are effective across the range of cereals typically found in swine diets is that they break down arabinoxylans, found in all cereals, to small chain xylo-oligomers. This opens up the cell walls in the feed releasing nutrients for digestion by the pig’s own enzymes. Furthermore, the xylo-oligomers are utilized in the lower gut by microbes producing volatile fatty acids which may be utilized as an energy source.

This appears to be particularly pronounced in finishers, potentially resulting in improvement in energy supply, growth and FCR. As such, reliable and consistent performance response to Econase XT relies heavily on achieving the right levels of enzyme activity across the animal gut – meaning that selecting a specific xylanase is critically important.

For producers who have moved from meal to pellet diets aiming to improve feed efficiency, there are two additional considerations: firstly, it is important to choose a xylanase that is thermostable enough to survive the pelleting process, and secondly, to choose one that can be measured for its enzyme activity. This ensures that the feed consumed by the pig has the expected activity to elicit a consistent performance response as seen in these trials with Econase XT.

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