High Inclusion of Highly Ground Pea Starch in Diets Increases Risk of Gastric Ulcers in Pigs

Farmscape for June 27, 2022

Full Interview 10:04 Listen

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests the inclusion of high levels of highly ground pea starch in the rations of pigs will heighten the risk of gastric ulcers. The increased use of field peas to provide the plant-based protein needed to make products such as power drinks and power bars for human consumption has resulted in an increased availability of finely ground pea starch for use in livestock feed. Dr. Matt Loewen, an Associate Professor in Veterinary Medical Biosciences with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says there have been indications are that feeding this finely ground by-product raises the risk of gastric ulcers in pigs.

Clip- Dr. Matt Loewen-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
Gastric ulcers in pigs, usually they occur with a stressful event, so shipping or if there’s a feed outage. It’s a stressful event, they fight with each other and then the feed comes back on and that’s a typical situation where you get a gastric ulcer in a pig. That seems to be exacerbated with the pea starch and that was kind of the idea that was out there. We did a fairly high inclusion level of 40 percent of this very finely ground pea starch into the diet and what we found was that it didn’t matter if there was a feed outage or how long that feed outage was, the pigs got ulcers. Just the pea starch itself was causing ulcers. The pigs did OK, they grew. It was a pilot study at the time so we’re not really sure how poorly they would have done in comparison to a group of pigs that were on a different type of starch.
But, from our pilot study, it would appear that 40 percent inclusion of the pea starch, regardless of whether there’s a feed outage or stressful event will give pigs ulcers.

Dr. Loewen says the next step will be to determine at what level this product can safely be incorporated into the diet and more importantly, to identify the mechanisms that cause this product to trigger gastric ulcers. He says, once we know why this happens, it will be possible to begin developing interventions to prevent these ulcers.

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