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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2013 Dec 17;4(1):50. doi: 10.1186/2049-1891-4-50.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) and cereals differently affect gut development in broiler chickens and young pigs.

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Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P,O, Box 7024, Uppsala SE-750 07, Sweden.


Dietary fiber, resistant to host-mediated digestion in the small intestine due to lack of endogenous enzymes, impacts many facets of animal health and is associated with gut development especially in young monogastrics. Furthermore, it can be used as in-feed antibiotic alternative. Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) forage with high content of pectin (uronic acids as building blocks) is a novel class of dietary fiber that is chemically different from cereal grains (with high content of arabinoxylans). In the present study, we investigated effects of dietary inclusion of chicory forage on digestibility, gut morphology and microbiota in broilers and young pigs. In the chicken experiment, 160 1-d old broiler chicks were fed 3 nutritionally balanced diets for 30 d including a cereal-based diet and 2 diets with part of the cereals substituted with 60 and 120 g/kg chicory forage (CF60 and CF120), whereas in the pig experiment, 18 seven-wk old Yorkshire pigs were fed 3 diets for 18 d including a cereal-based diet and 2 diets with 80 and 160 g/kg chicory forage inclusion (CF80 and CF160). Our results showed that young pigs were capable to utilize chicory forage well with higher total tract apparent digestibility (TTAD) of all fiber fractions, particularly uronic acid, compared with the control (P < 0.01). In contrast, a decreased TTAD of all fiber fractions was observed in chickens fed on diet CF120 (P < 0.05). Moreover, diet induced changes in gut morphology were observed in the large intestine of chickens. The alteration of cecal mucosal thickness was further positively correlated with TTAD of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) and its constituent sugars (P < 0.05). In addition, in pigs, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of intestinal microbiota revealed substantial dietary effects (cereal control diet vs. chicory forage inclusion) on the relative abundance of 2 dominant bacterial phylotypes (Prevotella sp. vs. Roseburia sp.) respectively (P < 0.05). In conclusion, our data showed that chicory forage (Cichorium intybus L.), a novel dietary fiber source in animal nutrition, have potential beneficial properties as fiber ingredient in diets for both pigs and chickens.

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