Why Is It Important to Determine Animal Fiber and How to Do This

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The amount of fiber analyses are increasing in analytical laboratories. As our understanding of animal nutrition advances, companies recognize the significance of properly formulating animal diets to meet their specific nutrient requirements. Fiber influences feed intake, nutrient utilization, and overall feed efficiency. Efficiency is also an important aspect when discussing sustainability of the whole animal feed industry.

Fiber composition can have various effects on animal growth, depending on the specific circumstances and the type of animal. Some examples are that:

  • Fiber promotes healthy digestion for the animal and supports the movement of feed through the digestive system. Adequate fiber intake can help prevent digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, which can impact overall growth and productivity.
  • Fiber is not as easily digestible as other nutrients like carbohydrates and proteins. This reduced energy utilization can potentially affect growth rates, particularly in animals with high energy requirements, such as young and growing animals or those raised for meat production.
  • Fiber can affect feed intake, as animals may consume less feed due to the filling effect of fiber. Consequently, if animals are not able to consume sufficient nutrients and energy to meet their growth requirements, their growth rates may be impacted.
  • High fiber diets can affect the absorption of other nutrients. Fiber can bind with certain minerals and reduce their bioavailability to the animal, potentially leading to deficiencies if not properly managed.
  • Fiber acts as a probiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut microbiota is essential for nutrient absorption and overall animal well-being.

It's important to note that the ideal fiber content in animal feed vary among species, age groups, and production objectives. Different animals, have different digestive systems and nutrient requirements. However, all animal feeds share that fiber is an important factor to consider.

Crude fiber analysis is the most common reference method used to measure the amount of fiber in a sample of food or feed. The term "crude fiber" refers to the plant material that remains after the food or feed has been subjected to an acid and alkali treatment. Crude fiber analysis is a relatively simple and inexpensive technique, but it has some limitations. The acid and alkali treatments used in the procedure can alter the chemical composition of the fiber fraction, leading to some inaccuracies in the measurement. Additionally, it does not provide information on the specific types of fiber present in the sample, which can vary in their nutritional value and physiological effects.

Several laboratories are therefore using detergent fiber methods instead. Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) and Acid Detergent Lignin (ADL) provides a better estimate of the total fiber content in a feed sample than crude fiber, which only measures cellulose, lignin, and some hemicellulose. This information is essential in formulating diets for livestock as it can help determine the digestibility of a feedstuff. The Detergent methods are also more accurate methods than Crude Fiber analysis, because they do not underestimate the amount of indigestible fiber in a feed sample. They are more precise because they are less susceptible to analytical errors caused by variations in analytical procedures and sample preparation. In addition, they provide additional information on feed quality. For example, the NDF concentration can be used to estimate the intake potential of a feedstuff, while the ADF concentration can be used to estimate the energy content of a feedstuff.

Analytical targets for fiber determinations varies among companies, animals and production goals. Choosing fiber method will therefore depend on these analytical requirements as well as regulatory requirements.

At OPSIS LiquidLINE we have our own analytical laboratory, which can aid when deciding solutions for your laboratory. We have several instruments that help when determining fiber according to the official reference methods. Our FiberROC Auto is an automatic system for Crude and Detergent fiber determinations. It provides remote monitoring as well as capability to run large batches at low cost. Our FiberROC manual is a system that allows efficient crude fiber determinations. OPSIS LiquidLINE provide global support to our customers, so please feel free to consult us directly regarding your requirements.

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