Effects of steam-flaked grains on foals’ growth and faecal microbiota

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Background: There is little objective information concerning the effect of steam-flaked grains on foal’s growth performance and faecal microbiota. To determine the effects of steam-flaked grains on foal’s growth performance and faecal microbiota, faecal samples were collection from 18 foals which had been fed either corn, oat or barley diets over the 60 days of the experiment. Body weight and conformation measurements were collected. Next-generation sequencing of the V3 + V4 region of the 16 S rRNA gene was used to assess the microbial composition of faeces. Alpha diversity, Venn graph, Relative abundance and beta diversity are presented. Results: There was a significantly higher larger increase in the body weight of those foals fed barley compared to either corn or oats. There were also significant changes in the Alpha diversity of the gut microbiota. The Shannon and Simpson indices were significantly higher in the barley fed group than those fed corn or oats. The Chao1 index was significantly higher in the oat fed group than the corn or barley fed groups. There were significant changes in the relative abundance of bacteria in the microbiota in terms of phylum, family and genus. The histogram of LDA value distribution showed that the 12 statistically different biomarkers of the bacteria were present. Tax4Fun function annotation clustering heat map showed that functional information was detected from 26 species of bacteria in faecal samples from the foals. Conclusions: Differences by starch sources were found in overall growth of the foals and in the faecal microbiota if either supplementary corn, oat or barley was fed. Further studies are required to determine the potential impact of the changes in the microbiota on the health and development of foals fed cereal starch of different sources.




Li, X. B., Huang, X. X., Zang, C. J., Ma, C., Chen, K. X., Zhao, G. D., … Yang, K. L. (2021). Effects of steam-flaked grains on foals’ growth and faecal microbiota. BMC Veterinary Research, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-021-02994-8

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