Potential of using maize cobs in pig diets : a review

Kanengoni, A. T. ; Chimonyo, M. ; Ndimba, B. K. ; Dzama, K. (2015)

CITATION: Kanengoni, A. T., et al. 2015. Potential of using maize cobs in pig diets : a review. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 28(12):1669-1679, doi:10.5713/ajas.15.0053.

The original publication is available at http://ajas.info/journal/view.php


The quest to broaden the narrow range of feed ingredients available to pig producers has prompted research on the use of low cost, unconventional feedstuffs, which are typically fibrous and abundant. Maize cobs, a by-product of a major cereal grown worldwide, have potential to be used as a pig feed ingredient. Presently, maize cobs are either dumped or burnt for fuel. The major challenge in using maize cobs in pig diets is their lignocellulosic nature (45% to 55% cellulose, 25% to 35% hemicellulose, and 20% to 30% lignin) which is resistant to pigs’ digestive enzymes. The high fiber in maize cobs (930 g neutral detergent fiber/kg dry matter [DM]; 573 g acid detergent fiber/kg DM) increases rate of passage and sequestration of nutrients in the fiber reducing their digestion. However, grinding, heating and fermentation can modify the structure of the fibrous components in the maize cobs and improve their utilization. Pigs can also extract up to 25% of energy maintenance requirements from fermentation products. In addition, dietary fiber improves pig intestinal health by promoting the growth of lactic acid bacteria, which suppress proliferation of pathogenic bacteria in the intestines. This paper reviews maize cob composition and the effect on digestibility of nutrients, intestinal microflora and growth performance and proposes the use of ensiling using exogenous enzymes to enhance utilization in diets of pigs.

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