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Finding trusted resources in swine nutrition

Picking the right feed additives in swine diets is easier said than done, writes swine nutrition technology columnist Dr Casey Bradley. After all it’s about which ones to add and why? Be critical and use trusted resources, she advises.

“Don’t forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.” There are quite a few of these provincial phrases that often play back in my mind, but they can also be applied to everyday life and the world of swine nutrition and research.

“Measure twice and cut once”

This was a favourite of my grandfather, who was a master craftsman. But the same goes for designing a research trial and/or nutritional programme. Lots of times we pick feed additives based on what we anticipate they will do.

The easiest example to use is an enzyme. We use phytase because it cleaves phosphorus from phytate. But there is ample research indicating that utilising phytase in swine and poultry diets will also lead to increased protein, amino acid, fibre, energy, and other trace mineral digestibility.

Conferences and journals

I have attended a few conferences over the last few months and have been reading a lot of journal papers. There have been some unexplainable and intriguing results, until you go back to the materials and methods.

Finding the right resources is vital to choose the ingredients which make a pig farm successful. Photo: Violetkalpa | Shutterstock
Finding the right resources is vital to choose the ingredients which make a pig farm successful. Photo: Violetkalpa | Shutterstock

I admit, I often just skim the materials and methods and focus on the table of results, because I presume the researchers and/or reviewers did their homework and dotted all their i’s and crossed all their t’s. But sometimes we researchers get ‘blinded’ to our hypothesis or objective that we forget about other factors that may influence our outcome. Outside errors are sometimes difficult to manage, but other times redefining the scope of a trial is needed.

A common phrase in papers is ‘more research is needed’ or is it something that needed to be considered in the protocol and execution of the trial? Thus, I recommend researchers whom are basic in certain areas to cross-collaborate with applied nutritionists when designing research protocols and diets as certain ingredients bring in other nutrients, good or bad for the outcome of trials.

For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction

In previous columns, I have discussed the risks of combining different feed additives and the ‘more is not always good’. The pressure is growing greater every day to eliminate all use of antibiotics in the production of food animals. Research indicates some huge opportunities with different feed additives in helping in this endeavour. But, I also want to point out there is a tremendous need to truly understand our objectives when utilising different feed additives. Some products can up-regulate the immune system while others will down-regulate the immune system.

But there is always an equal and opposite reaction, up-regulation results in an increased maintenance requirement that could be displayed as a reduction in feed efficiency, while down-regulation could lower the current stressor but potentially set the pig up for the inability to tackle a future challenge. It is important to understand all facets of a production system in designing programmes with these new feed additives and understand the interrelationships of your production system and nutritional strategies.

Paying attention to the details

In closing, don’t forget to pay attention to the details and seek out as much knowledge as possible from trusted resources in implementing new technologies within your nutritional programme, because the opportunities are there to meet your objectives for your nutritional programme and system.

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