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U of S Uses Glycemic Index to Balance Energy and Protein Absorption

by 5m Editor
10 October 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1361. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1361

The University of Saskatchewan is looking to better balance the absorption of energy and protein by pigs from feed by focusing on the Glycemic Index of feed grains.

Glycemic Index refers to the rate that energy from starch in the diet is absorbed and is determined by feeding the grain then measuring the speed at which glucose enters the bloodstream.

Associate Professor Dr. Murray Drew says a pilot project conducted by the Department of Animal and Poultry Science this summer looked at the Glycemic Indexes of barley and how they compare to corn.

"We have a control feed and this has been done in humans so the control is white bread.

What we do is we feed white bread to pigs and we measure how quickly glucose appears in the bloodstream of the pig and we call that 100.

We would feed the exact same amount of starch from the barley as was in the white bread and we would measure how quickly the glucose appeared in the bloodstream of the pig and compare that to the white bread.

We compared five varieties of barley to corn and corn has a Glycemic Index of approximately 95 to 100, somewhere in that range.

Barley has a Glycemic Index of only 70 and it turns out that a low Glycemic Index is a good thing for pig producers because we want the energy from the starch to be absorbed at the same rate as protein is absorbed.

For low glycemic grains like barley that's the case. We have a slow absorption of energy and that makes the pigs more efficient at using protein in the diet and it turns out that it makes them more efficient over all and they tend to grow faster".

Dr. Drew says the Glycemic Index among the five barley varieties ranged from 70 for Harrington, the standard malt barley, to as low as 30 with other varieties.

He's confident, with selection, feed barley can be developed that will be a little more competitive with corn.

Follow-up research is expected to begin after Christmas.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor