Project: Development of NIR methodology to predict the digestibility of key nutrients from rapeseed meal in pig and broiler chicken diets

Area of Expertise:

The overall objective of this project is to provide the pig and poultry industries with NIR prediction equations which can predict the digestibility of key nutrients, including amino acids from the chemical composition of RSM in real time. This will improve formulation precision when using RSM and will encourage the use of RSM in pig and poultry diets.

RSM represents a key alternative protein source for the pig and poultry industries but its inclusion is currently limited due to a lack of confidence.  It is recognised that more information is required with regard to the digestibility of nutrients from RSM, especially amino acids since they can often be bound to the fibre fraction within RSM which limits their absorption in the small intestine.  NIR represents a tool which can rapidly test the chemical quality of a wide range of feed ingredients and research suggests that there can be strong correlations between the chemical composition of feed ingredients and the digestibility of nutrients within the feed ingredient.  Therefore, opportunity exists to develop equations to predict the digestibility of nutrients from chemical composition.  Due to the speed with which NIR can produce a result, NIR is considered the most likely instrumentation to use to provide the fast moving world of feed formulation with accurate results in real time with regards to the digestibility of nutrients from specific batches of feed ingredients.  However, the development of NIR prediction equations requires a large effort with regard to animal studies.  Going forward, much effort and expense could be saved if it was found that the bird could be used as a model for the pig.  This would greatly reduce the effort and expense required to establish NIR prediction equations and would accelerate the portfolio of such equations for more feed ingredients, especially those which vary greatly in quality, for example DDGS.

The specific objectives of this project are:

  • Determine the variation in chemical quality, glucosinolate level and amino acid concentration of RSM that is available to the UK pig and poultry feed industry.
  • Establish the ileal and total tract digestibility of RSMs (n=90) varying in ‘quality’ which will a) optimise the formulation of pig and poultry diets when using RSM and b) provide a database for the development of the NIRS equations. 
  • Develop NIRS predictive equations for three varying NIRS instruments, including a hand held portable instrument, to predict the energy, crude protein and amino acid (lysine, methionine and threonine) ileal digestibility of RSM for poultry and pigs.
  • Assess the feasibility of using the bird as a model for the pig with regard to the digestibility of nutrients.