Gluconic acid (GA) derives from the in- complete oxidation of glucose by some Gluconobacter strains. When fed to nonruminant animals, GA is only poorly absorbed in the small intestine and is primarly fermented to butyric acid in the lower gut. This study investigated the effect of GA on in vitro growth response and metabolism of swine cecal microflora and on animal growth performance, intestinal wall morphology, and intestinal microflora. During a 24-h in vitro cecal fer- mentation, total gas production and maximum rate of gas production were increased by GA (linear, P < 0.001). Ammonia in cecal liquor was reduced by GA after 4, 8, and 24 h of fermentation (quadratic, P < 0.01). After 24 h of fermentation, total short-chain fatty acids, acetic acid, propionic acid, n-butyric acid, acetic to propionic acid ratio, and acetic + butyric to propionic acid ratio were linearly increased by GA (P < 0.001). In the in vivo study, 48 piglets were divided into 4 groups and housed in individual cages for 6 wk. Piglets received a basal diet with a) no addition (control) or with GA addition at b) 3,000 ppm, c) 6,000 ppm, or d) 12,000 ppm. After 6 wk, 4 animals per treatment were killed, and samples of intestinal content and mucosa were col- lected. Compared with control, GA tended to increase average daily gain (+13 and +14% for GA at 3,000 and 6,000 ppm, respectively; P of the model = 0.11; qua- dratic, P < 0.05). Daily feed consumption and gain to feed ratio were not influenced by GA. Intestinal counts of clostridia, enterobacteriaceae, and lactic acid bacte- ria were not affected by GA. Gluconic acid tended to increase total short-chain fatty acids in the jejunum (+174, +87, and +74% for GA at 3,000, 6,000, and 12,000 ppm, respectively; P of the model = 0.07; quadratic, P = 0.07). Morphological evaluation of intestinal mucosa from jejunum, ileum, and cecum did not show any sig- nificant differences among treatments. This study showed that feeding GA influences the composition and activity of the intestinal microflora and may improve growth performance of piglets after weaning.
- cecal microflora, gluconic acid, growth performance, organic acid, piglet, short-chain fatty acid