Short-chain fatty acid administration via water acidifier improves feed efficiency and modulates fecal microbiota in weaned piglets

Mandy M. Lingbeek,†,1 Klaudyna Borewicz,†Erica Febery,‡Yanming Han,†
John Doelman,† and Sandra J. A. van Kuijk†
† Trouw Nutrition R&D, P.O. Box 299, 3800 AG, Amersfoort, The Netherlands,
‡ Drayton Animal Health Ltd, Alcester Road,

Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 9RQ, UK
1 Corresponding author:


Open Access
Journal of Animal Science, 2021, Vol. 99, No. 11, 1–9 Advance Access publication October 22, 2021 Received: 19 July 2021 and Accepted: 21 October 2021 Non Ruminant Nutrition

Yanming Han, J. Doelman, S. J. A. van Kuijk

by M. M. Lingbeek on 16/11/2021
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This study examined the effect of a water acidifier containing free and buffered short-chain fatty acids (SCFA-WA) on growth performance and microbiota of weaned piglets. In total, 192 male piglets, approximately 4 wk of age, were allocated to 24 pens (12 per treatment) with 8 piglets per pen. The piglets received either regular drinking water (negative control) or drinking water with the acidifier supplied at 2 L/1,000 L. Body weight and feed intake were measured weekly on pen level. During the first 2 wk, daily visual assessment and scoring of the feces was conducted. Fecal samples of three piglets per pen were collected on days 14 and 42 for high-throughput sequencing analysis of the microbiota. Piglets offered SCFA-WA had significantly improved feed efficiency in the third week (P = 0.025) and over the whole study period (days 0 to 42, P = 0.042) compared with piglets in the negative control group, with a strong tendency observed during the first feeding phase (days 0 to 21, P = 0.055). Furthermore, the water acidifier group had a higher water intake than piglets provided with control water during the second feeding phase (days 21 to 42, P = 0.028) and over the whole study period (days 0 to 42, P = 0.043). There was no significant difference in body weight, average daily gain, or average daily feed intake (days 0 to 21, 21 to 42, 0 to 42). Furthermore, there was no overall significant difference in fecal scoring between the treatments. In terms of the fecal microbiota response, piglets offered the water acidifier showed a significantly higher relative abundance (RA) of genus Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and a lower RA of genus Streptococcus compared to the control. Furthermore, the redundancy analysis showed a positive association between improved feed efficiency and daily weight gain and RA of Butyricicoccus and Faecalibacterium. In conclusion, consumption of the water acidifier containing free and buffered SCFA modulated the microbiota and improved feed efficiency in piglets.

Key words: growth performance, microbiota, short-chain fatty acids, water acidifier, weaned piglets