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May 27, 2022

New dietary disciplines that could help control Post Weaning Diarrhoea (PWD)

May 27, 2022

The removal of Zinc Oxide as a treatment to control post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD), is encouraging producers, vets and nutritionists to look more closely at how dietary ingredients, can influence enteric health and piglet performance.

Addressing a recent webinar, to discuss nutritional options that can help prevent diarrhoea in young pigs, Dr Professor Jurgen Zentek, of the Institute of Animal Nutrition, Berlin, said a better understanding of how feed ingredients and formulations can affect intestinal integrity and the gut’s immune responses, could significantly reduce the incidence of PWD and improve pig growth and performance.

“Learning more about gut microbiota – the cocktail of micro-organisms that exists in the digestive tract – will enable nutritionists and producers to gain a greater insight into how diets can affect pig health. It will allow nutritional strategies to be developed to promote gut stability, protect the delicate intestinal pathologies and reduce the risk of scours occurring in nursery and growing pigs,” he explained.

“A diverse microbiota composition is considered to be better for health and well-being. Many studies have noted how pigs suffering enteric diseases and PWD tend to display a more homogenous microbiota,” explained Prof Zentek.

“Pigs reared indoors on cereal-based diets, in a more controlled environment, also have a very different microbial mix than wild boar or those reared outdoors that are exposed to a varied diet and environment,” added Prof Zentek.

Nutritional research also indicates that intestinal microbial populations vary depending on the age of the pig. This might also present challenges when managing enteric conditions without access to broad-spectrum Zinc-based treatment options.

Influential ingredients

Prof Zentek explained how nutritionists are now considering how feed ingredients and additives influence microbial colonisation, both positively and negatively, and if these characteristics can be manipulated to optimise pig health, reduce the need for medication and improve production outcomes.

“We’re learning more about gut function and how important a diverse microbiota is for a good health status and well-being. Finding ways to maintain Eubiosis, the microbial balance within a pig, will be very beneficial to herd health and productivity going forward. I believe nutritionists will be able to offer products and services capable of managing microbiota prophylactically, within the next five years,” he said.

“The alimentary tract has an innate immune system, which can respond swiftly to pathogenic challenge. This complex response requires energy and specific nutrients to fuel the finite processes involved in digestion and to maintain the tissues and membranes that protect gut pathologies.”

Prof Zentek said science is now offering clues on how nutrients and energy can be delivered at a cellular level. This precision nutrition will support immune function and protect the vital epithelium layer and mucosal linings of the gut that help prevent infection and optimise nutrient absorption.

“Feed compounders are also exploring how feed ingredients, inclusion rates and feed additives, such as yeast supplements and probiotics like Levucell SB, can support microbiota and regulate dietary responses,” he explained.

Professor Zentek said although cereal-based diets do provide adequate nutrition for pigs, young animals often find it difficult to metabolise the crude ingredients supplied. Heat treatments, pelletising and inclusion of feed additives, such as enzymes, present opportunities to improve feed digestibility. While including alternative raw materials such as rye and specific omega oils, offered opportunities to manipulate pigs’ dietary responses, promote gut stability and improve enteric health and production outcomes.