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Br J Nutr. 2009 Nov;102(9):1285-96. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509990213. Epub 2009 Jun 1.

Comparative effect of orally administered sodium butyrate before or after weaning on growth and several indices of gastrointestinal biology of piglets.

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  • 1INRA, UMR 1079, Systèmes d'Elevage, Nutrition Animale et Humaine, Domaine de la Prise, Rennes, France.


Sodium butyrate (SB) provided orally favours body growth and maturation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in milk-fed pigs. In weaned pigs, conflicting results have been obtained. Therefore, we hypothesised that the effects of SB (3 g/kg DM intake) depend on the period (before v. after weaning) of its oral administration. From the age of 5 d, thirty-two pigs, blocked in quadruplicates within litters, were assigned to one of four treatments: no SB (control), SB before (for 24 d), or after (for 11-12 d) weaning and SB before and after weaning (for 35-36 d). Growth performance, feed intake and various end-point indices of GIT anatomy and physiology were investigated at slaughter. The pigs supplemented with SB before weaning grew faster after weaning than the controls (P < 0.05). The feed intake was higher in pigs supplemented with SB before or after weaning (P < 0.05). SB provided before weaning improved post-weaning faecal digestibility (P < 0.05) while SB after weaning decreased ileal and faecal digestibilities (P < 0.05). Gastric digesta retention was higher when SB was provided before weaning (P < 0.05). Post-weaning administration of SB decreased the activity of three pancreatic enzymes and five intestinal enzymes (P < 0.05). IL-18 gene expression tended to be lower in the mid-jejunum in SB-supplemented pigs. The small-intestinal mucosa was thinner and jejunal villous height lower in all SB groups (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the pre-weaning SB supplementation was the most efficient to stimulate body growth and feed intake after weaning, by reducing gastric emptying and intestinal mucosa weight and by increasing feed digestibility.

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