Physical and chemical processing of feed ingredients and feeding management strategies are major instruments of manipulating amount and site of starch digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. Generally, as rumen escape of starch increases, postruminal starch digestion increases, and there does not appear to be a limitation to intestinal starch digestion. However, the efficiency with which postruminal starch is digested decreases, which represents a limitation that warrants investigation. Even though digestible dietary starch is presented to the intestine, there is no net glucose absorption at the portal vein, and plasma glucose levels remain relatively unaffected. This result may be associated with the large metabolic requirement for postruminally absorbed glucose, which is preferentially used for oxidative metabolism at the visceral tissue level. In addition, peripheral glucose concentration is highly regulated. A possible implication is that the exogenous glucose supply may spare endogenously synthesized glucose for gut metabolism, allowing more to be directed to the mammary gland. Amino acids also may be spared (less metabolism of dietary and tissue amino acids in the gut). Current production studies yield no clear evidence as to the benefits of postruminal digestion of starch to enhance milk yield or to change its composition. However, studies suggest that starch digested postruminally is used more efficiently for milk synthesis than that digested in the rumen.
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