The addition of fiber-degrading enzymes to feed delivers significant benefits for animal digestion, according to Dr. Hadden Graham, Global Technical Director at AB Vista.

Dietary fiber is commonly known as the part of the diet which is not broken down by the animal’s digestive enzymes. But in the latest of AB Vista’s Extraordinary Science Brought to Life videos, Dr. Graham explains how a greater understanding of dietary fiber can help to optimize feed.

“The major carbohydrate in any feed is generally the polysaccharides; this includes starch, as well as cellulose, hemicellulose, pectins and fructans: these last four make up the dietary fiber. For the purposes of analysis, dietary fiber can be defined as the sum of the non-starch polysaccharides and the lignin.”

Dr. Graham explains that the fiber fraction between different feedstuffs varies significantly, with levels of starch, oligosaccharides, non-starch polysaccharides and lignin varying considerably between corn and soyabean meal.

“Fiber can be both soluble and insoluble and can be both a nutrient (it can be degraded to provide energy) and an anti-nutrient (it can increase gut viscosity and encapsulate nutrients), thus reducing digestibility.

“There are three main mechanisms at play when looking at how fiber-degrading enzymes can be used to optimize feed: their ability to break down insoluble fibers and open up the cell walls; reduce viscosity, allowing the animal’s own enzymes to move quickly in the gut; and the subsequent production of oligosaccharides, providing energy for the animal.”

Dr. Graham says these mechanisms result in better digestion of nutrients (starch, protein and fat); greater degradation of fiber; and increased levels of good bacteria in the gut.

These findings were presented at the CLANA academic conference Oct. 10-14.

The new video, “Understanding the fiber fraction of the diet to optimize digestion,” can be viewed on the AB Vista website.