Prediction of nutrient digestibility in grower-finisher pigs based on faecal microbiota composition

Verschuren, Lisanne M.G.; Schokker, Dirkjan; Bergsma, Rob; Jansman, Alfons J.M.; Molist, Francesc; Calus, Mario P.L.


Microbiota play an important role in total tract nutrient digestion, especially when fibrous diets are fed to pigs. This study aimed to use metagenomics to predict faecal nutrient digestibility in grower-finisher pigs. The study design consisted of 160 three-way crossbreed grower-finisher pigs (80 female and 80 male) which were either fed a diet based on corn/soybean meal or a more fibrous diet based on wheat/barley/by-products. On the day before slaughter, faecal samples were collected and used to determine faecal digestibility of dry matter, ash, organic matter, crude protein, crude fat, crude fibre and non-starch polysaccharides. The faecal samples were also sequenced for the 16S hypervariable region of bacteria (V3/V4) to profile the faecal microbiome. With these data, we calculated the between-animal variation in faecal nutrient digestibility associated with variation in the faecal microbiome, that is the “microbiability”. The microbiability values were significantly greater than zero for dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, crude fibre and non-starch polysaccharides, ranging from 0.58 to 0.93, as well as for crude fat with a value of 0.37, but not significantly different from zero for ash. Using leave-one-out cross-validation, we estimated the accuracy of predicting digestibility values of individual pigs based on their faecal microbiota composition. The accuracies of prediction for crude fat and ash digestibility were virtually 0, and for the other nutrients, the accuracies ranged from 0.42 to 0.63. In conclusion, the faecal microbiota composition gave high microbiability values for faecal digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, crude fibre and non-starch polysaccharides. The accuracies of prediction are relatively low if the interest is in precisely predicting faecal nutrient digestibility of individual pigs, but are promising from the perspective of ranking animals in a genetic selection context.