A series of in vitro experiments were conducted to assess three fibrolytic enzyme preparations as potential feed additives in equine diets.
The three fibrolytic enzyme preparations were a concentrated cellulase (E1), an acid cellulase (E2) and a concentrated xylanase (E3).
The enzymes were evaluated on their ability to modify the cell wall fraction of high-temperature dried lucerne (HTL) under various experimental conditions including differences in temperature, pH, incubation period, substrate levels and particle size to enable selection of the enzyme preparation most effective in the hydrolysis of lucerne.
Results showed enzyme activities (as measured by reducing sugar assays) to be greatest at 50°C, pH 5 and over an incubation period of greater than 20 h.
E1 exhibited the greatest effect on total monosaccharide release from the HTL compared to E2 and E3.
Moreover, dry matter (DM) and total non-starch polysaccharide (TNSP) losses were also greater in HTL treated with E1 compared to E2 and E3.
Therefore, since the cell wall fraction of HTL contained substantial amounts of cellulose, the enzyme with the highest cellulase activity (Enzyme 1) was most effective in hydrolysing the cell walls of HTL.
Consequently, it would appear that the application of exogenous fibrolytic enzyme preparations to forages requires the chemical characterisation of the target forage to enable selection of enzymes that are (a) most suitable to degrade the cell wall components of the candidate forage and (b) effective under field conditions.