Sites, rates, and limits of starch digestion and glucose metabolism in growing cattle.

G. B. Huntington, D. L. Harmon, C. J. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations

Abstract

Growing cattle in the United States consume up to 6 kg of starch daily, mainly from corn or sorghum grain. Total tract apparent digestibility of starch usually ranges from 90 to 100% of starch intake. Ruminal starch digestion ranges from 75 to 80% of starch intake and is not greatly affected by intake over a range of 1 to 5 kg of starch/d. Starch apparently digested in the small intestine decreases from 80 to 34% as starch entering the small intestine increases from 0.2 to 2 kg/d. Starch apparently digested in the large intestine ranges from 44 to 46% of starch entering the large intestine. Approximately 70% of starch digested in the small intestine appears as glucose in the bloodstream. Within the range of starch intakes that do not cause rumen upsets, increasing starch (and energy) intake increases the amount of starch digested in the rumen, increases the supply of starch to the small intestine, increases starch digested in small intestine (albeit at reduced efficiency), and increases starch digested in the large intestine, such that total tract digestibility remains relatively constant. With increased starch intake, most of the starch is still digested in the rumen, but increasing amounts of starch escape ruminal and intestinal digestion, and disappear distal to the ileocecal junction. Again, within the range of starch intakes that do not cause rumen upsets, as starch intake increases, hepatic gluconeogenesis increases, glucose entry increases, and glucose irreversible loss increases, with a significant portion lost as CO2. The ability to increase use of dietary starch to support greater weight gains or improved marbling could come from increasing starch digestion in a healthy rumen or in the small intestine, but we conclude that the main limit to use of dietary starch to support live weight gain is digestion and absorption from the small intestine. Increased oxidation of glucose at greater starch intakes may alter energetic efficiency by sparing other oxidizable substrates, like amino acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E14-24
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume84 Suppl
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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