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Starch is an important energy source in animal feeds. Starch is digested in the gastrointestinal tract by enzymes produced by the animals themselves. The starch is absorbed in the gut.
Enzyme production is not yet optimized in young animals so they are unable to fully utilise starch. By already gelatinizing (partially) the starch, it is more available for enzymatic breakdown and increases the intestinal digestibility of a raw material.
For piglets the production of the starch digestion enzyme amylase around the weaning phase is still underdeveloped. A change in the feed from sow’s milk to solid food also requires a change in enzyme production. The gastrointestinal tract needs time to develop for this. If starch is provided in raw form during the weaning phase, this leads to a large amount of undigested starch arriving in the large intestine. This can lead to reduced digestion and problems with diarrhoea. Ingredients with a high degree of starch gelatinization will be better absorbed in the small intestine thereby optimising feed conversion and leading to better gut health.