Lignosulfonate absorption as Animal feed additive

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Eighteen Hereford ste, individually housed, were fed diets containing 0, 80 000 and 120 000 mg/kg of an ammoniated spent sulphite liquor (50 % DM), containing 57 % lignosulphonates on DM basis, (corresponding to 0, 22 800 and 34 200 mg lignosulphonate/kg feed) for 112 days (Chang et al., 1977).

The diet consisted of cracked maize and lucerne hay, spent sulphite liquor was incorporated at the expense of molasses. No significant differences in daily weight gain were observed.

Feed to gain ratio was slightly but not significantly higher in the group with 120 000 mg spent sulphite liquor/kg feed. Carcass characteristics were not affected. The concentration of free phenols in plasma of steers fed 80 000 and 120 000 mg spent sulphite liquor/kg feed (2.88 and 2.96 mg/L, respectively) was twice as high as in the control animals. No adverse effects were seen at post-mortem inspection.


Morrison et al. (1968) determined the metabolisable energy of calcium lignosulphonate added to practical broiler diets (maize–soybean type). The inclusion of calcium lignosulphonate in pelleted broiler diets up to 50 000 mg/kg as pellet binder did not significantly affect 28-day body weight or feed to gain ratio (two runs).

A second trial with two runs was also included. In the first run, mash diets and calcium lignosulphonate levels up to 100 000 mg/kg were used. Lignosulphonate at concentrations of 25 000 mg/kg was tolerated without adverse effects on 28-day body weight gain and feed to gain ratio, whereas 50 000 mg/kg and greater resulted in significant depressions of both parameters.

In the second run of the second trial, 10 000, 20 000 and 30 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg feed were well tolerated (same parameters as above), whereas 40 000, 50 000 and 60 000 mg/kg feed resulted in a significant reduction of the 28-day body weight gain and an increased feed to gain ratio. In both runs of trial 2, feed consumption per bird was not influenced by calcium lignosulphonate.

Proudfoot and DeWitt (1976) fed groups of 2 (pens) × 100 broiler type chicks of both sexes diets (maize, soybean meal, wheat and fish meal; 24 % crude protein in the starter, 16 % in the finisher diet) containing 0, 25 000, 37 500 and 50 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg feed for seven weeks.

Average mortality was higher in males (8 %) than in females (3 %). No differences in mortality, body weight, feed to gain ratio were observed. By week 4, post-mortem examinations revealed that birds receiving calcium lignosulphonate had enlarged caeca and the caecal contents were dark brown, shiny and gelatinous, which continued until the end of the experiment. The purpose of the study by Proudfoot et al. (1979) was to determine a dietary level of calcium lignosulphonate in finisher diets (mainly consisting of maize, soybean meal, wheat and fish meal) of broiler chicks not resulting in abnormal caecal contents.

Groups of 2 (pens) × 80 one-day-old chicks of both sexes were allocated to four treatments which consisted of 0, 10 000, 15 000 and 20 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg finisher diet (fed from day 26 until slaughter (day 47)). Mortality, body weight and feed to gain ratio were not significantly affected by increasing levels of calcium lignosulphonate (body weight 1886, 1884, 1828 and 1866 g and feed to gain ratio 1.90, 1.92, 1.97 and 1.94 for the groups treated with 0, 10 000, 15 000 and 20 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg, respectively).

At slaughter, caecal contents of birds fed diets containing 0 and 10 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg feed were normal in appearance with pale yellow, semi-solid contents. The group with 15 000 mg/kg feed exhibited a very slight darkening of caecal contents. The caecal contents of group with 20 000 mg calcium lignosulphonate/kg appeared abnormal, being charcoal in colour, shiny and gelatinous. Histological examination of tissue sections from duodenum, jejunum, caecum and colon did not reveal any significant abnormalities.


Naess and Fjolstad (1973) studied the effect of a (peptide precipitating) lignosulphonic acid preparation (LSA) containing lignosulphonate as sodium salt in diets for growing pigs. The authors observed that LSA at a concentration of 130 000 mg/kg feed (trial 1, 9–12 weeks’ duration, 11 pigs/group) on a conventional feed (barley, oats, wheat, soybean meal, wheat bran, fish meal) given to growing pigs (25 kg body weight at start, 90 kg after 12 weeks), produced a marked reduction of weight gain. The pigs of the sodium lignosulphonate group had diarrhoea most of the time with darkcoloured faeces.

When LSA was given at 30 000 and 60 000 mg/kg feed (trial 2, 11 weeks’ duration, eight pigs/group, body weight at start about 26 kg and at end about 80 kg), no effects on body weight were observed compared with the control group. No diarrhoea was observed for any of the pigs; however, in the last four weeks of the experiment, the faeces of a few pigs receiving 60 000 mg LSA/kg feed had a slightly darker colour. At necropsy, no significant changes were found by macroscopic and microscopic examination of organs.

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