Using dietary fibre to control childhood diarrhoea has rarely been discussed. However, dietary fibre is being proposed to prevent diarrhoea in piglets. The present study aimed to study the effects of introducing fibre in the post-weaning piglet diet and its particle size on the intestinal ecosystem before and after an experimental infection with Escherichia coli. A total of thirty-six post-weaning piglets were assigned to four experimental diets: a negative control (NC) diet, the same diet with 4 % wheat bran coarse (WBc) particle size or finely milled (WBF) and a positive control (PC) diet with an antibiotic. On day 9, animals were challenged with E. coli. Faecal and digesta samples were obtained before and after the experimental infection and changes in the microbial ecosystem were measured. Animals fed the WBc and the PC diets showed a significant reduction in the faecal score compared with the NC diet. The inclusion of WBc in the diet increased total volatile fatty acid concentration, reduced Bacteroidetes in the faeces before and after the experimental infection compared with the NC diet and increased Firmicutes at the end of the experiment. Based on the results, diarrhoea scours and the composition of the pig gut microbial community are modified by the inclusion of a relatively small amount of wheat bran in the diet, being the physical presentation of the fibre a determinant of that difference. © 2011 The Authors.
- Intestinal health
- Post-weaning diarrhoea