Hans Stein photo

Welcome to the Stein Monogastric Nutrition Research Laboratory that was organized at South Dakota State University in 2000. The Laboratory was moved to the University of Illinois in 2006 when Dr. Stein was hired as a nutritionist in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. Currently, the Laboratory consists of Dr. Stein, two postdocs, a research manager, eleven graduate students, four visiting scholars, and a number of hourly employees.

The focus of the work in the Stein Monogastric Nutrition Laboratory is to conduct basic and applied research in the area of digestive physiology and feed ingredient evaluation. Energy and nutrient digestibility and absorption by monogastric animals are routinely determined and a large number of experiments have been completed in this area.

Commonly used techniques in the Laboratory allow for determining:

  • apparent and standardized ileal digestibility of amino acids
  • availability of amino acids
  • heat damage of lysine in feed ingredients and diets
  • apparent ileal, apparent cecal, and apparent total tract disappearance of dietary fiber
  • fermentability of dietary fiber
  • digestibility of starch
  • apparent and true ileal and total tract digestibility of ether extract
  • apparent ileal and total tract digestibility of calcium
  • apparent and standardized ileal and total tract digestibility of phosphorus
  • relative bioavailability of phosphorus
  • values for digestible and metabolizable energy
  • net energy values
  • energy retention

Animal facilities to conduct this research are available and 3 laboratories for conducting chemical sample analyses are included in the Laboratory. Equipment to determine in vitro digestibility of nutrients and energy is also available.

Feed ingredients are evaluated by determining energy and nutrient digestibility values and this work is often followed by determining performance of animals fed diets formulated based on the digestibility values that were initially determined in each ingredient. Effects of feed ingredients on carcass quality and pork palatability are also determined if relevant. Some of the feed ingredients that have been evaluated include field peas, barley, corn and corn co-products including co-products from the ethanol industry, full fat soybeans, soybean meal, single cell protein, and animal proteins.

Effects of the level of feed intake on the digestibility of energy and amino acids have also been determined and a novel procedure to measure endogenous losses of phosphorus by pigs was developed by a previous Master's student. This procedure allow for determining both apparent and standardized total tract digestibility of phosphorus in inorganic as well as organic sources of phosphorus. The additivity of digestibility values for amino acids in mixed diets was measured and led to the conclusion that mixed diets are more accurately formulated if based on standardized ileal digestibility values for amino acids than on apparent ileal digestibility values. Recent discoveries include results showing that amino acid digestibility values are increased if soybean oil is included in the diets and a previous Master's student completed work demonstrating that it is possible to formulate diets for weanling pigs from about 6 weeks of age without using any inorganic phosphorus. A recent Ph. D. recipient from our lab has demonstrated the loss of endogenous calcium in the intestinal tract of pigs, which made it possible to calculate values for standardized total tract digestibility of calcium.

Seventeen Ph.D. students and 22 Master's students have completed their thesis work in the Laboratory and currently, six Ph.D. students and five Master's students are enrolled in the program. Communication of research results in the form of presentations at scientific meetings, publications of podcasts, and publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals is a major part of the graduate student responsibilities in the Laboratory, and students are taught about the importance of timely publications of scientific work.

The Stein Monogastric Nutrition Research Laboratory will continue to conduct research to serve the local and global livestock industries and to contribute to an increase in global food production.