Fiber and Its Benefits in Swine Production

AB Vista’s Sponsored Fiber Symposium at ASAS

As the swine industry eagerly anticipates the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) annual Midwest meeting, a featured highlight includes the fiber symposium sponsored by AB Vista. The symposium is a partnership with academic professionals including Dr. Amy Petry, Dr. David Rosero and Dr. Nick Gabler. They will delve into the latest fiber research and its benefits in enhancing swine nutrition and overall gut health.

Laura Merriman, AB Vista technical service manager, reflects on how AB Vista has been contributing to the understanding of fiber and shares more information about what to expect from the symposium on March 12 from 1:15-5:00 PM.

Jim – As we dive into this insightful conversation, let’s start by introducing the fantastic individual steering this interview ship. Laura, could you share a bit about yourself and what makes you the ideal person to lead this discussion?

Thank you, Jim, for the interview! Although my graduate work at the University of Illinois emphasized phytase and mineral metabolism, I received a lot of great training in fiber from coursework and fellow graduate projects. I was able to learn a lot about fiber from Dr. George Fahey and Dr. Hans Stein while attending the University of Illinois. Since my university days, I have had the opportunity to better understand the practical application of fiber as I work directly with many of our U.S. swine customers. I am able to conduct quite a lot of work with fiber in collaboration with many of the leading fiber investigators. At AB Vista, our goal is to help provide solutions to achieve the fiber needs of the animals given the limitations that U.S. producers have with ingredient availability and analytical challenges.

Jim – How has the fiber concept evolved over the years, and why is fiber crucial in pig production?

Laura – Fiber has historically been mostly disregarded as a nutrient and perceived as a diluent or binder to other nutrients. Due to improvements in analytical capabilities and on-going research not only in swine but also in humans, we have a better understanding of its benefits. In the sow, the addition of fiber is revealed to have numerous benefits, from maintaining body condition score to improving milk quality and supporting overall digestive health. Notably, fiber plays a crucial role around farrowing, mitigating constipation risks and providing additional energy for the sow while farrowing larger litters. For piglets, fiber supports the development of the gastrointestinal tract, establishing a “healthy” diverse microbiota and preventing scours, contributing to their overall health and long-term growth of the animal.

Jim – What’s AB Vista contribution to fiber understanding?

Laura – AB Vista is leading the charge on understanding the role fiber plays. They have invested significant resources towards analytical capabilities and research surrounding this topic. The company collaborates constantly with producers and academic professionals to bridge the gap between European research conclusions and U.S. dietary realities. AB Vista equips nutritionists with essential tools including table values from our Fiber Guide, a Fiber Calculator to play around with fiber inclusions, and access to Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) technology to determine the fiber composition in their own ingredients. These tools address the key limitations of incomplete or inaccurate routine fiber analysis, allowing producers to unlock the potential of fiber by understanding fiber composition and transforming it to benefit both animals and microbiota. Our goal is to help producers achieve KPIs through continued research, collaboration and leveraging technologies.

Jim – Could you tell us more about the latest fiber research at the fiber symposium?

Laura – We are very excited with the agenda for the fiber symposium. The program incorporates keynote speakers and topics about the background on fiber, characteristics of fiber-containing ingredients and kinetics, alluding to the direction we should be moving towards for fiber and much more.


MARCH 12, 2024 • 1:15 – 5:00 PM • BALLROOM A

1:15 p.m. Nonruminant Nutrition Symposium II Opening

1:20 p.m. 166 – Beyond Solubility: Navigating the Complex Landscape of Dietary Fiber

in Swine Digestion and Physiology. Amy L. Petry1, Hannah E. Miller2, 1University of Missouri, 2South Dakota State University

1:50 p.m. 167 – The benefit and challenges of fiber in the nursery pig diet. Nicholas K. Gabler1, 1Iowa State University

2:20 p.m. 168 – Effects of feeding barley-based diets differing in fermentable starch and fiber on nutrient digestion and body composition in weaned pigs. Joaquin J. Sanchez-Zannatta1, L.F. Wang1, Eduardo Beltranena1, Aaron D. Beattie2, Rex N. Newkirk2, Ruurd T. Zijlstra1, 1University of Alberta, 2University of Saskatchewan

2:35 p.m. 169 – The impact of corn-based fiber on intestinal morphology and disaccharidase activity in growing pigs. Hannah Miller1, Rachel Self1, Cassidy Sasser2,

Amelia Balser2, Rand R. Broadway3, Nicole C. Burdick Sanchez3, Jeff A. Carroll3, Michael Cruz Penn4, Amy L. Petry1. 1University of Missouri, 2Texas Tech University, 3Livestock Issues Research Unit USDA, 4School of Veterinary Medicine, Texas Tech

3:05 p.m. 170 – Feeding the Modern Sow: Unlocking the Value of Dietary Fiber. David S. Rosero1, 1Iowa State University

3:35 p.m. 171 – Current limitations to implement fiber in U.S. sow and nursery diets,

and nutritional strategies to support ideal fiber profile. Laura A. Merriman1. 1AB Vista

4:05 p.m. 172 – Effects of post-MSC DDGS inclusion in gestation diets on total tract nutrient and energy digestibility compared to other fiber sources. Garrin Shipman1, Jorge Y. Perez Palencia1, Jinsu Hong1, Kevin J. Herrick2, Melissa L. Jolly-Breithaupt2, Crystal L. Levesque3. 1South Dakota State University, 2POET Bioproducts, 3South Dakota State University

4:20 p.m. 172 – Assessing the impact of fiber and antioxidant supplementation during the periparturient period on gilt constipation, piglet viability, and body condition score. Erick Fuentes Cardona1, Hannah Miller1, Rachel Self1, Ben Haberl2, Cesar A.A. Moura2, Spenser Becker3, Pete Wilcock3, Amy L. Petry1. 1University of Missouri, 2Iowa Select, 3AB Vista

4:35 p.m. Q&A with Invited Speakers

The Q&A interactive session opens doors for audience engagement, providing insights into practical implementation strategies for incorporating fiber into swine diets. The symposium becomes a hub for shared experiences and collaborative learning.

Jim – How do you see the future of fiber implementation in the U.S.?

Laura – Today, most swine nutritionists are using NDF as their key fiber analysis. It is affordable and provides a glimpse into the insoluble fiber. Unfortunately, it’s prone to error as it is influenced by heat processing and does not indicate the solubility or fermentability of the fiber. More accurate and complete measurements for fiber are much more expensive and only available at some laboratories. Given this, along with the variability in the composition in our key fiber ingredients, it makes it difficult for producers to incorporate fiber accurately. In addition, soluble, fermentable, fiber-rich ingredients are largely unavailable for pig diets due to cost or availability. Going forward, I see more use of NIR technology to understand the composition of fiber of our ingredients, not limited to total dietary fiber, but soluble and insoluble components and even further down to individual NSP (non-starch polysaccharides) fractions. I also see the use of feed additives or isolated fiber components to transform the fiber into the key substrates versus being able to provide those expensive feed ingredients directly.

In conclusion, Laura Merriman and AB Vista are highlighting the advancement of fiber knowledge in pig production and the benefits that come with it. Recognizing fiber as a crucial component supporting a healthy gastrointestinal tract for piglets and sows is essential in today’s constantly changing nutrition realm. The journey into the intricacies of fiber in swine nutrition continues to evolve and the symposium is an excellent opportunity for the industry to brainstorm the next steps of fiber implementation.

Plan to attend the Fiber and Its Benefits to Swine Production Symposium on March 12 from 1:15-5:00 PM sponsored by AB Vista. View the Fiber Symposium agenda here.