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Research r...FinishersTrial report 580

Trial report no. 580: Particle distribution in meal feed for finishers

– effect on productivity, prevalence of Salmonella and on microbial and physico/chemical conditions in the gastro-intestinal tract


The effect of varying particle distribution in the grain was studied in a finisher herd. The feed was dry in the form of meal feed. The effect was measured on productivity, prevalence of Salmonella and on the gastro-intestinal health. The study comprised 72 pigs/group in the weight interval approx. 30-100 kg. There were six groups where the grain was characterised as described below: 

Group 1:  100% coarsely ground barley
Group 2:  50% finely ground wheat and 50% coarsely ground barley 
Group 3:  50% finely ground wheat, 25% coarsely and 25% finely ground barley 
Group 4:  50% finely ground wheat, 25% rolled and 25% finely ground barley 
Group 5:  50% finely ground wheat, 15% coarsely and 35% finely ground barley 
Group 6:  50% finely ground wheat and 50% finely ground barley 


Application of increasing amounts of coarsely ground barley affected the conditions in the gastro-intestinal tract and resulted in an increased water binding capacity, an increased amount of solid matter, a reduced pH, an increased concentration of organic acids, more lactic acid bacteria and fewer coliform bacteria. These conditions are estimated to be an advantage as they reduce the growth conditions for bacteria like Salmonella. There was generally a linear correlation between the measured parameters and increasing amounts of coarsely ground barley. The larger the amount of coarsely ground barley, the better the ecosystem and thereby probably the better ability to resist bacteria such as Salmonella. Only very few pigs were serologically positive for Salmonella, and it was therefore not possible to directly establish the importance to the prevalence of Salmonella of varying feed textures in meal feed.

There was a significantly linear correlation between increasing content of coarsely ground barley and productivity. For each time the coarsely ground barley constituted 10% of the grain, the productivity was reduced by approx. DKK18 per place unit/year. This reduction was primarily due to the feed conversion that increased by 0.05 FUp per kg gain for each 10% coarsely ground barley in the grain. The production results did not improve when 25% rolled barley was used compared with 25% coarsely ground barley. This may be caused by the fact that the grain was not rolled to the recommended thickness of max. 1 mm.

The content of starch in the manure increased with increasing amount of coarsely ground barley.

Overall, this trial showed that the feed texture of meal feed affects the microbial ecosystem, the gastric health, the physico/chemical traits in the gastro-intestinal tract and the production economy. An increasing amount of coarsely ground barley resulted in the best gastro-intestinal health, but also the poorest productivity. Thus, on the basis of this trial it is not possible to provide unambiguous instructions as to how the particle distribution should be in meal feed as it depends on the conditions in the individual herd.

Updated: 07.11.2002


Lisbeth Jørgensen

Programme manager

Tel.: +45 3339 4301



Christian Fink Hansen


Helle D. Kjærsgaard


Knud Erik Bach Knudsen


Bent Borg Jensen