How to predict the response of NSP enzymes in wheat-based diets

NSP enzymes are used regularly in poultry diets and in pig diets during times of high cereal prices.

Wheat is a major staple in most poultry and pig diets, surpassed only by corn, worldwide. Yet, unlike corn, wheat is rather rich in non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) that are quite difficult, if not impossible, for monogastric animals (poultry and pigs) to digest efficiently. 

This is why wheat contains about 90-95 percent of corn’s energy value. To this end, NSP enzymes are used rather regularly in poultry diets, and with increasing frequency in pig diets, especially during times of high cereal prices.

But, the response of NSP enzymes in wheat-based diets is rather variable and quite unpredictable. A recent study evaluated the variation that exists in the amount of NSP in wheat and the exact composition of the NSP-fraction. The objective was to examine the effects of a simple xylanase on the degradation of water-soluble  and water-insoluble NSP-fractions of wheat samples with variable NSP-characteristics.

The treatment of nine wheat samples with the same xylanase resulted in varying degrees of hydrolysis. Degradation was between 3 percent and 40% percent for the water-soluble NSP fraction and between 13 percent and 26 percent for the water-insoluble NSP fraction. Correlations were found between the degree of hydrolysis of arabinoxylans and the arabinose to xylose (A/X) ratio. It was concluded that in vitro the response of wheat to xylanase varies from batch to batch, and that the A/X-ratio can be used as an effective predictor for the NSP degradation by commercial enzymes (xylanase).

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