7 June 2002

Enzymes bridge energy gap

VARIABILITY in wheat energy levels, which costs pig producers up to 94p a animal due to poor feed conversion, could be solved with more targeted use of feed enzymes.

Wheat can vary in digestible energy content by 2-3 MJ/kg, says Gary Partridge, technical director of Danisco Animal Nutrition, formerly Finnfeeds. "Moving from a good to poor quality wheat is calculated to reduce feed conversion in grower-finishers by about 5%, cutting margins by 94p/head."

Wheat value is based on bushel weight, but UK research shows this is a poor indicator of wheat quality and how pigs will perform.

Dr Partridge believes variability in wheat energy content is linked to its fibre content. "Fibre levels are affected by growing conditions and the microclimate, resulting in considerable variability."

One solution is to add the appropriate feed enzymes to pig rations, which target grain fibre. Supplementing feed enzymes give clear improvements in pig performance by increasing feed intake and better nutrient digestibility.

In addition, enzymes help improve the uniformity of pig performance.

A survey of trials by Danisco has shown an average reduction of more than 20% in final liveweight variability of grower-finisher pigs fed wheat-based diets.

"Fibre content of wheat also has a clear negative impact on the microbial flora in the gut of a pig, which affects its ability to cope with disease"

Current research aims to develop a wheat testing service, similar to Avicheck for poultry producers. This involves measuring soluble fibre in wheat samples and predicting the amount of enzyme needed in pig rations, he says.

This will allow pig producers to match the enzyme dose with grain quality in each batch of wheat more precisely, bringing more profitability from enzyme use. Dr Partridge believes the service could be up and running within the next year. &#42