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NSPases help improve digestion for optimal performance

While vegetable protein sources often add extra fibers to the feed in the form of non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), these NSPs often have anti-nutritional effects with a detrimental impact on digestion and performance. However, this effect can be perfectly reverted using adequate enzymes in the feed, so-called NSPases. The efficacy of NSPases on the break-down of soluble and insoluble fibers – and related animal performance – depends on their type of action, their concentration in the enzyme concept and the dosage of this concept in the diet.

Non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) fibers bind or surround nutrients and dietary proteins, thereby hindering efficient absorption of these valuable nutrients needed for optimal animal performance. For an optimal break-down of non-starch polysaccharides, a sufficient quantity (threshold level) of appropriate enzymes is required. The right combination of synergistic enzymes targeting specific chemical bonds in both soluble and insoluble fibers is key to unlock nutrients and optimize digestion for successful animal performance. 

Grains typically represent about 50 % of NSP-fibers as well as 50 % of the feed protein in animal diets. By-products from grain and oil seeds are major protein sources and represent the other 50% of total protein and NSP in animal diets. Fibers influence the absorption and digestion of animal: their soluble and insoluble forms hamper nutrient availability, they are partly fermentable and non-fermentable and impact water holding capacity and transit time.

NSP-sugar fingerprint

NSP analysis of raw materials provides a specific ‘NSP-sugar fingerprint’ (see Fig. 1) indicating the main types of fiber present. Arabinose, xylose and glucose are the major components of the fiber fraction of grains like corn, wheat, barley and their by-products. It indicates that the major NSP present in those grains are typically xylan (arabinoxylan) and glucan. While they are also present in by-products of oil seeds like soybean meal, rapeseed meal and sunflower meal, these are characterized by higher levels of galactose and uronic acids, components indicating the presence of pectin, which add to the anti-nutritional effects.

This means there is no one-size-fit all solution, and the enzyme concept of NSPases should be adjusted to the raw materials present in the animal feed.


Figure 1. NSP sugar fingerprint of major raw materials (source: AVEVE Biochem analytical data)

Both soluble and insoluble fibers have an impact on digestion

Soluble fibers contribute to the development of viscosity in the small intestine, which is considered anti-nutritional as the increase of viscosity limits the efficient absorption of nutrients.

Insoluble fibers limiting the access of endogenous enzymes to the nutrients within the desired time frame and carry away nutrients from the small intestine into the large intestine and caecum.

The solubility of the NSP-fibers varies greatly according to the feed ingredient and the specific tissues of the grain from which they originate. While corn has a similar NSP sugar composition as wheat, its fibers are much more insoluble. Wheat and corn by-products contain more insoluble fibers, as processing increases the level of insoluble fibers (e.g. xylan) in the outer layer of the grain.

Glucan, also in the outer layers of grain further adds to the insoluble cellulose fiber. Other types of by-products like sunflower meal and distillers grain (DDGS) can contain important levels of insoluble NSPs such as glucan (e.g. cellulose). In contrast, soybean and rapeseed meals contain high levels of the more soluble pectin type of NSP-fibers.

Adjusting the enzymes to the feed composition

While NSPases are commonly used to prevent the negative effects of soluble fibers, their potential impact on insoluble NSP-fibers is not always obvious. 

The efficacy of NSPase enzymes on insoluble fibers and related animal performance depends on the type of enzyme activities, their concentration in the enzyme concept and the dosage of this concept in the diet. To obtain a sufficient breakdown (hydrolysis) of NSP in both soluble and insoluble fibers, the addition of minimum threshold levels of appropriate enzymes is needed.

Insoluble fibers like cellulose require a higher quantity and a broader composition of enzyme activities to obtain partial hydrolysis. A combination of different enzyme activities targeting different fibers in the insoluble fiber network is therefore important. Furthermore, the added enzymes need to be active in time at the right part of the digestive system, often within a restricted time frame. An appropriate combination and concentration of specific enzymes is therefore essential.

AveMix® NSP enzyme concepts: proven expertise in feed efficiency

As supplier of enzymes and microbial regulators to the animal nutrition industry, Aveve Biochem has over 30 years of evidence-based experience in designing enzyme concepts. The company has developed two first-rate NSPase concepts for the animal feed industry.

AveMix® XG 10

This concept contains high levels of glucanase and xylanase, acting on both soluble and insoluble xylan and glucan, the two most important polysaccharides present in animal feed. Xylanase and glucanase enhance the availability of nutrients for the animal by degrading the NSP in cell walls. They also reduce the intestinal viscosity, considerably enhancing the intake of nutrients. It is of particular interest for diets based on corn, wheat, barley, triticale, rye and by-products such as wheat or rice bran.

AveMix® 02 CS

This concept not only contains high levels of glucanase and xylanase, but also of pectinase, making it of particular interest for the break-down of pectin present in most oil seed by-products such as soybean meal, rapeseed meal and sunflower meal.

Both products have been validated under various conditions in a range of diets for different species. The AveMix® enzyme concepts have shown to improve animal performance while allowing more formulation flexibility.

For more information about our AveMix® enzyme concepts, and how they can help in optimising feed efficiency, please contact us at avevebiochem@aveve.be

Author: Olivier Maigret, AVEVE Biochem, Belgium