The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has conducted the first published investigation of the use of bacteria as a probiotic to increase fiber fermentation rates and reduce manure output in pigs that consume high-fiber diets.
ARS scientists fed the pigs in the study a typical diet or a high-fiber diet. The The high-fiber diet contained 10 percent soybean hulls and 20 percent corn dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS).
The pigs were also given one of three bacterial supplements the scientists developed from different strains of Bacteroides ovatus, which had been obtained from human fecal samples and cultured in fiber-rich media. The three bacterial supplements were designated Bacterium B, C, and D.
Pigs that received the bacterial supplements designated as Bacterium B reduced their manure output by 20 percent. These pigs also gained more weight and had improved blood cholesterol and glucose levels, both indications of an improved energy status, compared with pigs not given probiotics.
Scientists believe the probiotic could improve pig performance and reduce manure volumes, which in turn would increase producer profits and reduce the environmental footprint of pork production. The bacterium could be fed in a liquid supplement or possibly freeze-dried and mixed with feed.
This work was supported by a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as part of the Intestinal Fortitude Program, which investigates how to help people obtain more energy from fiber. Results were published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2012.