An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that pigs fed diets supplemented with exogenous phytase reduce mucin synthesis in the small intestine, increase protein hydrolysis in the stomach, increase breakdown of phytate along the gastrointestinal tract, and increase mineral and AA digestibility. A diet based on corn, soybean meal, and canola meal was formulated to meet requirements for growing pigs except for Ca and P, which were lower than requirements. Three additional diets were formulated by adding 750, 1,500, or 3,000 units of phytase (FTU) per kilogram to the basal diet. Eight growing barrows (38.45 ± 3.06 kg) were prepared with a T-cannula in the duodenum and another T-cannula in the distal ileum. Pigs were housed individually and allotted to a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square design with four pigs and four periods in each square. Each period lasted 14 d with the initial 7 d being the adaptation period to the diets. Pigs were fed twice daily in combined amounts equal to 3.2 times the estimated requirement for maintenance energy. Results indicated that the apparent ileal digestibility (AID) and the apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of Ca and P increased (linear and quadratic, P ≤ 0.05) as phytase inclusion increased. However, values for AID of Ca and P were not different from values for ATTD of Ca and P, indicating that there is no net absorption of Ca and P in the hindgut. The apparent duodenal digestibility (ADD) of Ca and P was ~30% and 10% to 20%, respectively, indicating some digestion in the stomach of both Ca and P. A quadratic increase (P < 0.05) of the AID of GE was observed with the breakpoint around 1,500 FTU, but there was a negative linear (P ≤ 0.001) effect of dietary phytase on the ATTD of GE. Phytase did not affect mucin synthesis in the small intestine, protein hydrolysis in the stomach, or ileal digestibility of dispensable and indispensable AA. However, degradation of higher phytate esters (IP6 and IP5) into lower phytate esters (IP4 and IP3) and inositol increased as dietary phytase increased, indicating that it is possible to completely degrade dietary phytate if microbial phytase is included by at least 3,000 FTU in the diet. In conclusion, supplementing diets with phytase resulted in increased degradation of phytate and phytate esters and improved digestibility of Ca and P, but phytase did not change intestinal mucin synthesis, gastric protein hydrolysis, or the AID of AA.
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