Dr Ioannis Mavromichalis
In long past times, the most effective cure for piglet scours was feeding
them with eggs from hens raised in the same farm. Since then, things have
changed but this knowledge has not been lost. I am talking here about
hyper-immunised egg powder.
In long past times, the most effective cure for piglet scours was feeding them with eggs from hens raised in the same farm. Since then, things have changed but this knowledge has not been lost. I am talking here about hyper-immunised egg powder.
It has been commercially available for at least a decade now, but it never made the splash of plasma or zinc oxide. In my opinion, it is better than both these additives!
Back in 2002, when I was working in the USA, an extensive epidemic of E. coli broke in the upper Midwest States. Nothing worked! No plasma, no zinc oxide, no antibiotics, nothing! Until we tried a hyper-immunised egg powder... Long story short, it was at least a couple years later we dared sell piglet feed without this additive!
Since then, this additive has changed dramatically, with more potent products available now in the market in very competitive prices. And, to make things even better, we now know that hyper-immunised egg powder not only minimises the risk of scours post-weaning, but it can also replace plasma!
Let me explain!
Hyper-immunised egg powder is basically pasteurised eggs derived from hens strongly immunised against specific pathogens that affect piglets post-weaning. As a result of this hyper-immunisation, eggs produced by these hens are extremely rich in immunoglobulins. And, it is immunoglobulins that attach themselves to pathogenic bacteria rendering them harmless to the animal.
We have been using the concept of immunoglobulins in piglet nutrition since we first added milk products to such diets. How is that? Well, sweet dry whey contains 2.5 to 4.5% immunoglobulins. This is nature's way of providing a strong antibiotic through milk! Animal plasma also contains 8-15% immunoglobulins, and research has clearly shown it is the immunoglobulin fraction of animal plasma that provides its beneficial effects.
But, why eggs when we have milk and plasma?
First, milk products contain very low levels of immunoglobulins and quite often, over-processing of such products (cheap ones, you say?) renders the immunoglobulin fraction useless.
Second, plasma is not only extremely expensive, but its composition of immunoglobulins is very generic and as such it has no effect against pathogens causing outbreaks of diarrhoea. It provides only a wide reduction of pathogenic load, which results in healthier animals.
On the other hand, a good quality hyper-immunised egg powder is very specific against pathogenic bacteria that cause scours and at the same time improves feed intake and growth performance, even in relatively healthy animals. And, one needs not much of this product as avian immunoglobulins have a much stronger affinity for pathogens compared to mammalian immunoglobulins. That is why about a kilogramme of hyper-immunised egg powder can replace 50 kg of animal plasma.
Needless to say, since the incidence in the States, I have never designed a high-quality piglet diet without this hardly known ingredient. A secret revealed!
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