Increasing overall digestibility in swine

July 13, 2021

There are many complex interactions between enzymes, substrates and the gut. For this reason, it is not sufficient to consider the effects of enzymes individually – their combined effects over each substrate need to be taken into account. A combination of several exogenous enzymes should be evaluated as a unique enzyme solution – together they attack anti-nutritional factors found in each combination of raw materials, releasing nutrients from them. Understanding these collective effects, as well as how gut health has been influenced, is the best way to evaluate improvements in feed digestibility. This principle is known as the Feedase approach.

The synergistic activity of enzymes is able to increase the breakdown of more NSPs, reducing their anti-nutritional effects, and improving digestion processes. The overall outcome of combining enzymes is what Adisseo calls the ‘Feedase effect’. It describes the combined effect of several exogenous enzymes (used simultaneously) on digestibility, coupled with a release in energy and nutrients. In other words, it is the total effect of the multi-enzyme complex on both the diet substrate and the animal itself – in terms of digestion and gut health – resulting in a better and more precise prediction of performance.

Increasing feed digestibility with phytase

Phytases are used in pig feed to limit the use of inorganic phosphorus and improve the digestibility of P and Ca by degrading phytate used in pig feed to limit the use of inorganic phosphorus and improve the digestibility of P and Ca by degrading phytate. The question may arise whether to use only phytases which are capable of releasing, in addition to calcium and phosphorus, a certain amount of energy as well as amino acids. Studies conducted by Adisseo have shown than even using the complete matrix offered, it is not possible to achieve the energy and amino acid matrix levels of a combination such as Rovabio Advance Phy.

Increasing overall feed digestibility with Rovabio Advance

Digestibility improvement in pigs

To demonstrate the ability of a complex of carbohydrases (Rovabio® Advance) to release nutrients from the dietary indigestible fraction, a digestibility trial was performed on piglets fed wheat-, barley- and soya-based diets .This trial was conducted with 60 weaned piglets (Large white x Landrace) between 28 days and 70 days of age. The trial was carried at the Adisseo “Centre of Expertise and Research in animal Nutrition” (CERN) in Commentry, France (ref 1). 

The feeding program consisted of two dietary phases: first a post-weaning diet from day 0 to 14, and a second diet from day 15 to 42. Feeds were provided ad libitum as pellets and Rovabio® Advance L was added by post-pellet application. The Feedase effect was demonstrated by the significantly improvement both energy utilization and the digestibility of several nutrients. During the overall trial period (0-42 days), the addition of Rovabio® Advance resulted in a significant improvement of final weight (+3.2%), body weight gain (+5.1%), and feed conversion ratio (-2.8%) (Table 1).

  • Performance effects obtained with Rovabio® Advance
    Table 1: Performance effects obtained with Rovabio® Advance- Control wheat-, barley- and SBM-based diet (Control) and plus enzyme (+ Rovabio®)

Digestibility improvement in sows 

To further validate the concept of global feed digestibility, the effect of Rovabio Advance on top of diet was also measured in sows at both the end of the gestation and lactation periods. Parameters including, body condition score, and subsequent effects on their progeny performance, were recorded (Ref 2).  

Rovabio Advance significantly increased, the number of live-born piglets by 4.4%, piglet birth weight by 6.3% and weaning weight by 5.3% (Figure 1). These results demonstrate that the use of Rovabio Advance provides a greater amount of nutrients to the sows, which supports the gestation of a larger number of heavier piglets. Likewise, Rovabio Advance provides greater nutritional support to sows during lactation, resulting in a heavier litter at weaning. 

  • Results in piglets litter performance (1)
    Figure 1: Results in piglets litter performance

Increasing overall digestibility with Rovabio Advance Phy 

To demonstrate the synergy of different enzymes on the performance of growing pigs, a multi-carbohydrase was added to highly concentrated phytase, creating a multi-carbohydrase plus phytase complex (MCPC – Rovabio Advance Phy, Adisseo). The study, carried out at South Dakota State University, evaluated the effect of MPCP on the performance of grower-finisher pigs (Jerez-Bogota et al., 2020).  

A total of 276 Lance-Large White female × Duroc male hybrid pigs were part of the trial, carried out at Swine Education and Research Facility, South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD) in the USA. The experiment followed a complete randomized design, with 5 dietary treatments, 9 replicates and 6 or 7 pigs per replicate.Five typical American corn-wheat-soybean meal-based diets were formulated as follows: 

  • PC: NE and nutrients specification based on NRC 2012 recommendations 
  • NC1 : -3% NE, -3% digAA, -0.134% unit digP, -0.119% unit Ca 
  • NC2 : -5% NE, -5% digAA, -0.134% unit digP, -0.119% unit Ca  
  • NC1+Rovabio® Advance Phy 
  • NC2+Rovabio® Advance Phy 

Over the whole growth period (34 to 120 kg body weight), pigs fed either of the un-supplemented negative control diets had poorer performance than the positive control. The addition of the MCPC, to both negative control diets, resulted in better performance. Graph 1 shows that gain to feed ratio reached at least the same level as the positive control. This data demonstrates that the addition of MCPC was able to recover the performance lost when feeding lower specification diets. The reduction in nutrient levels saved €20/t of feed, compared to the positive control. This equates to a saving of €4.50 per pig.  

The Feedase approach improves the precision of formulation recommendations for the whole enzyme complex added to feed. As well as contributing to a reduction in the use of phosphorus and nitrogen resources, decreasing nutrient waste, whilst at the same time achieving excellent animal performance.  

  • The addition of a multi-carbohydrase complex plus phytase (Rovabio® Advance Phy) improved overall gain to feed ratio in pigs
    Graph 1: The addition of a multi-carbohydrase complex plus phytase (Rovabio® Advance Phy) improved overall gain to feed ratio in pigs

a, b, c – column with different superscripts differ significantly (P<0.05)

The improved performance can mostly be explained by an increase in the apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of dry matter, gross energy, crude protein and phosphorus (Graph 2). This means that, the NE and dig AA can both be lowered by 5%, together with a reduction of 0.134 % unit of dig. P, and 0.114 % unit of Ca, in pig diets – without any negative effects on growth performance or bone ash (Graph 3). 

  • Effect of dietary treatment on ATTD of dry matter, gross energy, crude protein and phosphorus
    Graph 2: Effect of dietary treatment on ATTD of dry matter, gross energy, crude protein and phosphorus
  • Effect of dietary treatment on bone (femur) ash
    Graph 3: Effect of dietary treatment on bone (femur) ash


Swine nutrition is greatly affected by the quality of raw materials and the level of anti-nutritional factors in the diet. Hyper-productive swine are genetically able to improve their performance, when receiving a good amount of digestible nutrients, however the increase in diet specification is too costly. Regardless the cost of concentrate diets, the cost of raw materials like corn, wheat and soy are always relatively high, forcing nutritionists and producers to balance  dietary specifications and cost of diets – in order to reduce feed costs per Kg of live weight produced. The use of a multi-carbohydrase and phytase complex (MCPC), having its recommendation of use developed under the Feedase approach, can answer both questions, providing optimal balance. It can either, deliver improved performance for a lower cost, or decrease feed cost whilst maintaining animal performance. This is the solution required by the animal production industry. More than 20 scientific different in vivo trials support the Feedase effect of these two multi-enzyme complexes (Rovabio Advance and Rovabio Advance Phy) on swine around the world, allowing Adisseo to find the optimal recommendation that will fit each production condition.  

Internal references – trial reports are available on request 

Ref 1 – report P15-099 
Ref 2 – report P16-01 

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