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Scientists Seek Strategies to Increase Inclusion of Pea Starch in Swine Rations

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are examining strategies to allow an increased inclusion of pea starch in the diets of pigs without increasing 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 the problem is there are 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:

The problem is with it is that we really just don't know how to use it.We don't know how to feed it to pigs, at what levels, things like that.Typically most starch, if you're feeding pigs or what not, the size of starch granule would be around 700 microns but, with the separation process for protein concentrate and then obviously the starch concentrate, the starch size after it's ground, is only 10 microns, somewhere between 10 and 100 microns.

The problem is, you figure the normal size of your starch granule is going to be around 700 microns and now we've ground it down and you're feeding this very fine powder at 10 to 70 microns, so it's almost 10 times smaller, and they think that this very finely ground powder can cause ulcers.

So, what we're looking at is how to use it and feed it to pigs without causing ulcers and the other thing we're looking at is does it actually cause ulcers.

Dr. Loewen says the study shows a 40 percent inclusion of pea starch will give pigs ulcers.He says the next step will be to identify the mechanisms that cause this product to trigger ulcers and determine at what level it can safely be incorporated into the diet.

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