The study was conducted to investigate the effects of graded dietary inclusion levels of betaine on ileal and total tract nutrient digestibilities and intestinal bacterial metabolites in piglets. A total of eight barrows with an average initial body weight of 7.9 kg were randomly allocated to one of the four assay diets with two pigs per treatment in four repeated measurement periods. The assay diets included a basal diet based on wheat, barley and soybean meal alone, or supplemented with a liquid betaine product at dietary levels of 1.5, 3.0, or 6.0 g betaine per kilogram diet (as-fed). Ileal digestibilities of dry matter and neutral detergent fibre increased both quadratically and linearly, and ileal digestibility of glycine increased linearly as dietary betaine level increased (p < 0.05). Furthermore, total tract digestibility of crude protein increased quadratically (p < 0.05) and total tract digestibilities of most amino acids tended to increase quadratically (p = 0.06 to p = 0.11) with increasing dietary betaine level. Moreover, there were linear increases in the concentrations of most bacterial metabolites which were significant p < 0.05 for ileal d-lactic acid and for faecal diaminopimelic acid. The results demonstrate that dietary betaine supplementation stimulates bacterial fermentation of fibre in the small intestine and bacterial degradation of crude protein in the large intestine.
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