In Europe, post-weaning piglet diarrhea is a major problem for the industry, causing significant economic losses. Correct piglet nutrition is therefore an essential issue.
This problem has been controlled through the use of medication in the feed. But, on the one hand, European legislation has restricted the use of zinc oxide (ZnO) and antimicrobials, and on the other hand, this medication should not be a regular part of farm management, because although it is easier and cheaper, it can be a deception in the long term.
It is to be considered that farms that use less or do not use antibiotics or ZnO in feed have lower performance than those that do.
This general problem pushes veterinarians, farmers, additive factories and other members of the sector to look for excellence in management and natural alternatives that do not generate resistance, that do not have suppression periods and above all that do not leave residues in human food.
What does the elimination of medication in feed bring about?
Farms must go through a process of adaptation. There is the possibility of outbreaks from time to time, so cleaning, management, nutrition, vaccinations and other areas must be adjusted. The reward at the end of this adaptation will be better performance compared to the use of medicated feed. In this sense, today we will talk about the prevention and control of diarrhea in piglets at the nutritional level.
Getting the right diet
We must provide the ideal conditions with the amount of nutrients necessary for proper growth through piglet nutrition. To achieve this, the sow must be taken into account so that she herself is the one who feeds and cares for the piglets during the first days of life.
The best food for a newborn mammal will always be breast milk, so the first emphasis in suckling piglet management is to ensure that the sow can provide good quality colostrum in sufficient quantities for the piglets in the litter.
Considerations for sow feeding
First and second farrowing sows have higher relative amino acid and mineral requirements than multiparous sows. This is due to the lower feed consumption due to their lower live weight and their higher muscle growth requirements. The amino acid, Ca and P requirements of pregnant sows increase in the last third of gestation to promote proper growth of the fetuses. Lysine requirements in lactating sows increase as intake decreases, therefore, intakes should be higher in gilts.
In summer, when temperatures are very high, energy needs decrease and the sow eats less. But, the needs in other nutrients such as amino acids or minerals do not decrease, so their concentration in the feed should increase.
Maintaining high levels of fiber is important for the prevention and treatment of many intestinal diseases, which helps to reduce stereotypies.
Now let’s talk about piglets
First hours of life
Colostrum intake in the first hours of life is essential for the survival and good growth of the litter. It is best for piglets to suckle colostrum from their own mother. Therefore, in large litters it will be necessary to give them a few turns and remove them 60-90 minutes so that the others can have access. Groups should be exchanged two or three times.
The body temperature of the smaller piglets should be raised and ensure that they have a sucking reflex before putting them to the teat. It is preferable to give the smaller piglets a protein supplement and then put them under the heat lamp, allowing the larger piglets to suckle first.
For the weakest piglets, administer Lactolevure to increase the vigor of the piglets, direct oral administration of 2 ml per piglet per day for two days.
After 8 hours of life. Time to work the immune system.
Equalize litters, moving as few piglets as possible. It is better to remove large piglets that have consumed enough colostrum and therefore will be strong enough to take a teat in the new litter.
Between 4 and 7 days of life, piglets that are lagging behind should be detected and, if necessary, a homogenization of litters should be carried out. In these cases, a feed supplement such as Lactolevure can be given to help the piglet to have nutrients until it sucks from the sow.
Provide water and Lactolevure in dishes until day 14 to suckling piglets. In the first 4 days it is better to put water in dishes, as they will not drink from the nipples. From the 15th day of life start the consumption of feed, forming a slurry with the Lactolevure.
Administering AMB Weaning Feed + AMB Pigmix 1.5% + Crypto SinE.Coli modulates the intestinal microbiota and feed efficiency, provides greater immunity and avoids the use of antibiotics and zinc oxide.
It should be taken into account that piglet feed consumption in farrowing cages is very low. Feed with an excess of nutrients and highly palatable feeds increase consumption in the first days of life, when the piglet’s digestive system is not sufficiently prepared, which can increase the incidence of diarrheal processes (Berrocoso et al., 2013). A balance of nutrients and raw materials of high quality and digestibility should be sought.
The weaning phase of the piglet is a stressful time for both the animal and its caretaker. During this period many changes occur, such as separation from the mother or adaptation to new feeding patterns, which can lead pigs to post-weaning diarrhea with symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
The animal’s diet changes from being liquid, warm and distributed between 15 and 20 feedings per day to a dry, cold and free range diet, which can promote fasting during the first hours.
The lack of feed intake and the change in diet causes a decrease in intestinal villus length, which contributes to malabsorption of nutrients (Pluske et al., 1997). In addition, as mature enterocytes decrease, enzyme activity decreases (Vente-Spreeuwenberg and Beynen, 2003).
At weaning, the piglet loses its main source of nutrients, so there is a rapid depletion of some vitamins and minerals, and amino acid requirements change to create immune response. Nutrition goes beyond the animal itself, even influencing the microbial populations in the environment.
The transition from liquid to solid diet is progressive in nature. On-farm weaning is often abrupt, so it is necessary to stimulate the piglets’ intake. This intake can be stimulated by feeding AMBiotec LACTOLEVURE before, during and after weaning.
Water supply to piglet diets.
In lactation, piglets consume 0.5 to 0.6 liters of milk per day, plus water. At weaning, when they start to rely on solid feed, it is logical to increase the amounts required. Hanging water dishes are a good option to supplement the water supply in the first weeks as they can be hung at the indicated height for each group and provide an easily accessible water surface.
The organoleptic, bacteriological, mineral and pH qualities of the water should be checked regularly and the water treatment adjusted according to the results.
Fiber in post-weaning feeds.
A lack of fiber could increase the incidence of enteric processes at this stage, due to a low mechanical effect of the feed on the digestive mucosa, which facilitates the adherence of pathogenic bacteria to the intestinal wall (Mateos et al., 2006a,b).
The problem is more accentuated with granulated feed than with flour feed. Therefore, in farms with limited sanitation or poor management, it is advisable to restrict consumption or to supply feedstuffs in meal with a higher fiber content.
Soluble fiber sources rich in pectins and poorly lignified (beet pulp) can ferment in the large intestine, resulting in short-chain fatty acids and lower pH. These two effects improve the intestinal health of the piglet, since a reduction in pH reduces the multiplication of pathogens related to protein fermentation and fatty acids are a direct source of energy for the colonocyte (FEDNA Standards, 2013).
Protein for piglets.
Swine do not need protein, they need amino acids.
If the piglet is given more protein than necessary, the advantage is that the amino acid levels are covered. But, what is not digested goes to the colon for fermentation, this has amino groups that cannot be stored and are converted into ammonia and indole which are toxic to the animal.
The excess of protein favors bad microorganisms, mainly clostridium.
Effect of LACTOLEVURE on piglets in lactation and during the transition phase.
The use of this product as an aid to enteric processes has been discussed throughout the article.
AMBiotec has conducted a study in piglets with the objective of evaluating the effect of supplementation with the product LACTOLEVURE in the form of an isotonic gel with yeast culture and its fresh metabolites in piglets in the lactation phase and in the transition phase.
Forty-eight litters of piglets were used for this study. The litters came from sows from all farrowing units and were randomly assigned to the 2 treatments (T1: negative control, T2: experimental treatment). After weaning, piglets were placed in 2 modules of 28 pens/module, occupying 27 pens and a nursing pen, the capacity of each pen being 8 piglets. The piglets of each of the treatments continued with the study, remaining in the same treatment group until day 21 post-weaning.
In addition, a statistical study of all the data was applied to evaluate each of the parameters studied, such as weight and mean daily gain (ADG).
The final weight after 21 days of treatment is significantly different between treatment groups. Piglets in the group treated with LACTOLEVURE have higher weight than untreated animals.
The other parameter studied was the average daily gain (ADG), which was higher for piglets in the T2 group in both the lactation and transition stages.
It was concluded that the treatment with LACTOLEVURE shows an improvement in the average daily gain of piglets, weaning weights and in the transition phase. The variability of weaning and transition weights in the group treated with LACTOLEVURE is lower than that of the control group and the percentage of animals in tails is lower at weaning for the treated animals.
This means that the batches of animals are more homogeneous when treated with the LACTOLEVURE product. In addition, another important fact to take into account is that in the treated group a lower mortality was detected in the transition phase compared to the untreated group.
The change in legislation and antimicrobial restrictions should be seen as an opportunity for the sector to improve and for farmers to leave behind harmful practices that are detrimental to health and production yields.
Nutrition is one of the factors that can contribute to the prevention of diarrhea and the reduction of antimicrobial use. But, nutrition does not overcome poor management and poor genetics. So to achieve optimal results, a lot of work must be put into proper farm management.
Lactolevure is a postbiotic that can help us in the adaptation of piglets during weaning by reducing the fasting time, providing nutrients and vitality to the animal. Our prestarter and stenter feed program together with Lactolevure is able to replace the use of zinc oxide.
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