Consequences of reduced fibre intake on digestion, rate of passage and caecal microbial activity in the young rabbit
British Journal of Nutrition
The present work was undertaken to study in vivo fibre degradation, rate of passage and caecal fermentation activity (CFA) in the young rabbit (7 weeks old) receiving ad lib. a control (C) or a lowfibre (LF) diet (400 and 220 g neutral-detergent fibre (NDF)/kg respectively). As a consequence of the 50% reduction in the dietary fibre level, the voluntary food intake of the rabbits decreased by 25%, and the daily fibre intake was reduced by 60 % (26.7 and 10.8 g NDF/d for groups C and LF,
... vely). In spite of a longer mean retention time of the fibre particles, the quantity of fibre digested daily was significantly lower (P < 001) for the LF than for the C group (4-0 and 7 8 g NDF/d respectively). The circadian distribution of the faecal excretion (as a percentage of the total DM output) did not differ between diets (P = 052) and no interaction was found (P = 0.96) between diet and time of excretion. Also, variables describing the CFA showed no interactions between diet (C or LF) and time of sampling (during caecotrophy or during hard faeces excretion). Our results indicated no direct relationship between the quantity of fibre digested and the total short-chain fatty acid concentration in the caecum, but the fermentation pattern indicated lower proportions of acetate for the LF diet. Higher levels of diaminopimelic acid (DAPA) and ATP were found for the LF diet associated with an improved dietary fibre digestibility, suggesting a higher microbial activity. However, this effect was balanced by a lower caecal digesta turnover rate and the microbial biomass output estimated through the faecal DAPA output did not vary significantly.