Impact of Carbohydrase on Pig Performance


Impact of Carbohydrase on Pig Performance


The aim of modern pig production is to optimise performance and gain, while seeking a more sustainable way of production. With feed taking up the lion’s share of production costs, it makes sense to get the most out of what is fed. An enzyme can help optimise feed usage – and multiple enzymes can reinforce each other.



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Of all enzymes used, phytases and carbohydrases are the most regularly added to pig diets. Phytase degrades phytate, releasing phosphorus and avoiding the formation of complexes with proteins and minerals, which in turn improves digestibility and increases nutrient absorption, significatively decreasing phosphorus excretion.


Phytases are already well described; this article focuses more on the carbohydrases, or enzymes able to cut carbohydrates into simpler sugars, and their combined effect with phytase. The most well-known carbohydrase is xylanase, which acts on certain arabinoxylans.

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For pigs consuming a cereal and soya-based diet, supplementing a multienzyme complex has proven to be very useful. A multienzyme complex consisting of different types of enzymes, for instance a multicarbohydrase plus a phytase complex (MCPC), can better improve the global digestibility of feed and therefore increase the energy and amino acids release.


Using combinations of carbohydrases

Carbohydrases in pig production are important because pigs are not well able to degrade the fibre structures present in plant cell walls, in particular non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs). Soluble NSPs, including β-glucans and arabinoxylans, affect the viscosity of the digesta, reducing the ability of digestive enzymes to reach their target substrate and in turn affecting nutrient absorption. Insoluble NSPs reduce the general digestibility of the diet, increasing the loss of nutrients.


An example of this is a multicarbohydrase complex, useful as a solution to the aforementioned NSPs. They are known to degrade several complex β-glucans and arabinoxylans found in cereals – reducing their antinutritional effects. Its addition to pig diets has been shown to increase the digestibility of protein and dry matter in a more consistent way. It is not hard to imagine the opportunities when the following carbohydrases are used together:

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Debranching enzymes like arabinofuranosidases improve the enzymatic activity of carbohydrases on the arabinose side chains of arabinoxylans, which are the most common type of fibre in wheat and corn (7.3% and 4.7% of dry matter, respectively).

β-glucanases in lower proportion for common diets also bring an extra factor to reinforce the consistency of the results.

As a result of the first two modes of action, xylanases have better access to the xylose backbone for hydrolysis.

The synergistic activity of these enzymes means that NSP breakdown is increased and the antinutritional effects reduced, improving the digestion process and boosting the overall efficiency of the diet.

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