Stabilized rice bran boosts antibiotic-free piglet growth
Courtesy RiceBran Technologies
Supplementation with rice bran also increased intestinal beneficial bacteria levels.
North Carolina State University researchers boosted piglet growth performance without antibiotics by including stabilized rice gran in the piglets’ feed. Supplementation with stabilized rice bran correlated to a 10 percent improvement in the growth to feed ratio of antibiotic-free piglets.
In the study, stabilized rice bran seems to have improved the efficiency of nutrient utilization in antibiotic-free piglet diets and increased intestinal beneficial bacteria levels. Stabilized rice bran may exert beneficial prebiotic effects in weanling pigs, concluded the authors of the study published in the Journal of Animal Science.
Stabilized rice bran study procedure
Two hundred piglets were weaned at 21 days and assigned to four groups with different diets.
- antibiotics + stabilized rice bran
- antibiotics only
- stabilized rice bran only
- neither antibiotics nor stabilized rice bran
The pigs were kept in groups of five. The piglets’ pens intentionally were not sanitized between weaning groups to more closely replicate farm conditions, as opposed to those of a sterile laboratory.
After 28 days, one pig from each group was euthanized and dissected so that its intestinal conditions could be analyzed. Piglets in the rice bran group tended to have larger colonies of beneficial bifidobacteria in their colons.
Results of adding stabilized rice bran to piglet diets
Overall, piglets on the stabilized rice bran only diet improved piglet growth to feed ratio, but not if the diet also included antibiotics. However, antibiotic supplementation did increase average daily gain for the piglets from days 14 to 28 by 6.4 percent.
The study’s authors concluded that stabilized rice bran has potential as a piglet feed ingredient, especially as consumer and regulatory pressure drive pig farmers away from antibiotic growth promoters.
Besides potential benefits to piglets, building the market for stabilized rice bran also make use of a wasted resource, which benefits the economy and the environment.
Stabilization can make rice bran useful to pig farmers
The bran, or outer casing, of the rice grain contains antioxidants, tocopherol, B vitamins and other nutritious components. However, for much of the world’s rice supply, the bran is shaved off to produce white rice.
The bran contains 18 to 20 percent fat, along with the enzyme lipase. The enzyme causes the fat in the rice bran to go rancid and unpalatable quickly.
Rice bran rescued from the trash
That results in 60 to 70 million tons of bran being wasted or sold for low prices, according to Robert Smith, PhD, CEO of RiceBran Technologies. Making use of that wasted resource gives stabilized rice bran credentials as an ecologically sustainable pig feed ingredient.
Smith’s company specializes in using extrusion to deactivate the enzyme lipase and make rice bran a useable ingredient for both humans and animals. No other chemicals are added during the process. The heat produced by friction in the extruder neutralizes the enzyme.
Previously, the main method for keeping rice bran from going bad was to extract the fat from it using hexane. However, the resulting product could not be considered sustainable because it used a non-renewable petrochemical in the production process of de-fatted rice bran.
Tim Wall is a staff reporter at WATT Global Media.
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