Pig is one of the cheaper protein sources that can contribute to food security in Africa. Pigs are omnivores and thus are preferably suited to convert non-human edible feedstuff into high-quality food animal protein. Pork intake is continuing to grow tremendously over time worldwide, but production hasn’t responded adequately to meet demand. It has recently been projected that almost 45% of additional pork consumption will be imported.
Pig numbers in Africa increased steadily from 33.8 million in 2013 to 34.5 million in 2014. Yet this rate will obviously not be sufficient to fulfil the needs of a growing population on the continent, which presently stands at about 950 million people. Between 2013 and 2015, pork made up 12% of all meat consumed in sub-Saharan Africa. This is lower than chicken (36%), beef (33%), and sheep (19%). Cultural and spiritual concerns have mostly limited pork intake in many countries, but urbanization is changing this.
The main reason for the decrease in growth in pig production is high pig feed costs. Pig producers typically use a thinner selection of ingredients, including maize, whole wheat, sorghum, soybean oilcake, and sunflower oilcake, among others in formulating pig diets. They are often forced to contend with humans and chicken for feed resources, making the expense of producing pigs prohibitive. Repeating droughts due to global warming are exacerbating the situation.
The other issue is that some high fiber diets are not the best for pig production. Pigs don’t grow as fast because some fiber – like wheat bran – reduces feed intake and dilutes the available protein, energy, nutrients, and vitamins essential for growth. But not all fibers are the same: many are better than others.
To resolve both the cost and the fiber issues, the pig industry must find ways to effectively utilize readily available fibrous feeds from industries that process agricultural products. This will bring about cheaper production of pigs and a more food secure continent.
The Fibers That Work and Those That Don’t
Typically the major challenge in using fibrous feeds in pig diets is that pigs’ digestive enzymes cannot break down specific dietary fiber components to a state that can be put to use by the animals. In addition, high fiber diets improve the rate of feed passage in the pig gut and trap nutrients in the fiber matrix, making them not available for digestion. Fibre also imputes bulkiness to diets, which limits the volume of feed the pig can take in.
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But fibers should never be grouped within a blanket term. Only a few are bad food choices for pigs. Fibers vary in their physical and chemical properties, which influence the solubility of the fiber. Soluble and insoluble fiber components differ in how they affect the number, range, and types of microorganisms in the gut, fermentation patterns, and absorption of nutrients.
A better understanding of these facts will result in the sustainable use of fibrous elements in pig diets. Sugar beet pulp, for example, is highly soluble and can be used at relatively high levels. Meanwhile, whole wheat bran, which is highly insoluble, can be utilized in moderate amounts because of its laxative effects.
Pigs can also extract up to 25% of the energy they need from fiber fermentation products. This means that grains in their diets could be reduced. Apart from the economic benefits of using less costly fibrous byproducts in pig feed, there are also environmental gains. Most of these byproducts tend to be dumped inappropriately, ultimately causing water and air pollution.
The Influence Of Fibrous Diets
Many studies have focused on the impact of fibrous diets on the growth performance of the pigs. But there is a need to quantify the beneficial effects of high fiber diets on intestinal health and welfare.
Fiber increases pig health by promoting the growth of lactic acid bacteria, the “good bacteria.” These suppress the multiplication of disease, triggering bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella by lowering the pig intestines’ pH. This contributes to food safety because people can get E.coli and Salmonella from eating pig meat contaminated in this way, poisoning them.
Fibre also reduces stress and behavioral problems in pigs. This is particularly significant given that farming is progressively being utilized to produce pigs. This has been shown to be quite stressful, with detrimental outcomes on production. For example, sows seem to be less stressed and move around less if they happen to be physically and nutritionally satisfied.
Some other ways to break down the fiber-matrix structure include agitation and the use of fiber degrading enzymes or strong stomach acids. These break down the fiber components to their basic matters, which is better for pigs. Nevertheless, a strong acid is not the best option because of safety, environmental and financial concerns.
There are many benefits to including fibrous elements in pig diets; however, they are not made up in customary diet formulations. The evidence points out that high fiber diets are suitable for pigs and should be applied more than what is currently being applied.