Effect of K-diformate in starter diets on acidity, microbiota, and the amount of organic acids in the digestive tract of piglets, and on gastric alterations

J Anim Sci. 2001 Aug;79(8):2123-33. doi: 10.2527/2001.7982123x.


The aim of this investigation was to study the effect of K-diformate on the intraluminal pH, microbial composition in digesta and feces, organic acids along the digestive tract, and alterations of the gastric epithelium of pigs. Pigs (n = 36) weaned at 28 d of age were allotted to two groups and fed without (control diet) or with 1.8% supplemental K-diformate. Fecal samples were taken from the rectum on d 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21, and 28 postweaning. Half of the animals from each group were killed on d 7 and the other half on d 29 postweaning. Growth performance was not different for both groups (P > or = 0.73). The gastric epithelium was not negatively affected by K-diformate (P = 0.25). Potassium-diformate decreased (P < or = 0.04) or tended to decrease (P < or = 0.10) the counts of total anaerobic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts in feces and digesta samples from the stomach, distal small intestine, cecum, and middle segment of the colon. The pH along the gastrointestinal tract of piglets was not affected by K-diformate (P > or = 0.30). On d 7, the concentration of lactic acid along the gastrointestinal tract was similar with both diets (P = 0.15). On d 29, the concentrations of lactic acid tended to be lower along the small intestine (P < or = 0.08) and the stomach (P = 0.11) of the pigs fed K-diformate. Formic acid in digesta was detected at significant levels only in the distal segment of the small intestine of the control pigs (from 4 to 11 mmol/kg of wet digesta), whereas considerable amounts were measured in the stomach (from 23 to 40 mmol/kg of wet digesta) and all segments of the small intestine (from 7 to 25 mmol/kg of wet digesta) in the K-diformate-fed pigs on both days. On d 7, pigs fed the K-diformate diet had a tendency (P < or = 0.08) to have higher concentrations of organic acids (acetic + propionic + butyric) in the digesta of the distal small intestine, cecum, and proximal colon. On d 29, both groups had similar concentrations of these acids, irrespective of the segment of the gastrointestinal tract (P = 0.95). Our study showed that the addition of K-diformate to a starter diet for piglets decreased total anaerobic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, coliforms, and yeasts in feces and in digesta from various segments of the gastrointestinal tract, without affecting the gastric or intestinal pH.

MeSH terms

  • Acids / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Digestion
  • Digestive System / drug effects*
  • Digestive System / microbiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Formates / metabolism
  • Formates / pharmacology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Potassium*
  • Stomach / drug effects
  • Swine / metabolism*


  • Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Formates
  • Potassium