Purified cellulose, soybean hulls and citrus pulp as a source of fiber for weaned piglets
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Dietary fiber is an important component, which has a direct effect on intake, digestion, and absorption of nutrients; and also alters intestinal microbiota and morphology according to solubility. One digestibility trial and one performance experiment were performed to evaluate the effects of sources of fiber in diets for 21 day weaned piglets. The experimental diets used in both trials consisted of a control diet and diets with purified cellulose, soybean hulls or citrus pulp as a main source of dietary fiber. To evaluate the digestibility of nutrients (Assay 1), the total feces and urine collection method was used. The fiber sources did not affect nutrient digestibility, except for soluble fiber, which increased with the inclusion of citrus (Citrus sinensis L.) pulp. To evaluate performance, morphophysiology and microbiology of the digestive tract of weaned piglets, a total of 32 castrated male piglets was used. Slaughter of animals was implemented at 35 and 50 days of age. The use of soybean (Glycine max L.) hulls and citrus pulp in diets increased the number of goblet cells and the density of villi in the jejunum. The viscosities of stomach and cecum contents increased due to the addition of citrus pulp. Soybean hulls and the citrus pulp included in diets reduced the occurrence of E. coli in the small intestines of piglets slaughtered at 35 days of age. Among the fiber sources, purified cellulose in piglet diets promotes better performance of animals, due to the modulation of the small intestine microbiota, with lower E. coli occurrence resulting in higher villus density.