In vitro caecal fermentation of carbohydrate-rich feedstuffs in rabbits as affected by substrate pre-digestion and donors' diet

C. Ocasio-Vega, R. Abad-Guamán, R. Delgado, R. Carabaño, M.D. Carro, Javier Garcia


The influence of substrate pre-digestion and donors’ diet on in vitro caecal fermentation of different substrates in rabbits was investigated. Eight crossbreed rabbits were fed 2 experimental diets containing either low (LSF; 84.0 g/kg dry matter [DM]) or high soluble fibre (HSF; 130 g/kg DM) levels. In vitro incubations were conducted using batch cultures with soft faeces as inoculum and four fibrous or fibre-derived, low-starch and low-protein substrates: D-cellobiose (CEL), sugar beet pectin (PEC), sugar beet pulp (SBP) and wheat straw (WS). Substrates in half of the cultures were subjected to a 2-step pepsin/pancreatin in vitro digestion without filtration, and the whole residue (soluble, insoluble and added enzymes) was incubated at 39°C. Gas production was measured until 144 h, and volatile fatty acid (VFA) production at 24 h incubation was determined. Cultures without substrate (blanks) were included to correct gas production values for gas released from endogenous substrates and added enzymes. Pre-digestion had no influence on in vitro gas production kinetic of WS, and only reduced the time before gas production begins (lag time; by 31%; P=0.042) for SBP, but for both substrates the pre-digestion decreased the molar proportion of acetate (by 9%; P≤0.003) and increased those of propionate and butyrate (P≤0.014). For CEL, the pre-digestion increased the gas and total VFA production (by 30 and 114%), shortened the lag time (by 32%), and only when it was combined with LSF inoculum 38 percentage units of acetate were replaced by butyrate (P≤0.039). Treatments had a minor influence on in vitro fermentation traits of SBP pectin. The results showed that the pre-digestion process influenced the in vitro caecal fermentation in rabbits, but the effects were influenced by donors’ diet and the incubated substrate. Pre-digestion of substrate is recommended before conducting in vitro caecal fermentations. The level of soluble fibre in the donors’ diet also influenced the in vitro caecal fermentation, but its effect depended on the type of substrate.


gas production; processing procedure; donors’ diet; rabbits; caecal fermentation; volatile fatty acids

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1. The effect of cellobiose on the health status of growing rabbits depends on the dietary level of soluble fiber
César Ocasio-Vega, Rebeca Delgado, Rodrigo Abad-Guamán, Rosa Carabaño, Maria Dolores Carro, David Menoyo, Javier García
Journal of Animal Science  vol: 96  issue: 5  first page: 1806  year: 2018  
doi: 10.1093/jas/sky106


 Universitat Politècnica de València


Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)


e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011