The five-seeded plume poppy is a plant native to China and Japan and it’s also the origin of isoquinoline alkaloids. These biologically active elements are now associated with benefits during pig transports, including a lower Salmonella shedding, less contamination and lower stress levels.
Modern intensive swine production systems are characterised by exposing the pigs to several stressors, including transportation, to which the animals must be able to adapt and respond. Transportation of food animals is a routine and necessary practice within the production chain. Additionally, in times of increasing concerns about food safety and long debates on animal welfare, transportation to the slaughterhouse is a hot topic in food animal production.
Transportation has been recognised as one of the most stressful events for pigs because it combines several stressors such as loading, transport and unloading the pigs to a different environment within a short period of time.
Stress response and its consequences
Besides the increase in the serum levels of catecholamines and glucocorticoids, other physiological responses to transportation stress include a significant weight gain reduction, and hyperglycaemia to supply the body with the necessary fuel to respond to the stressor.
In addition, behavioural changes have been observed. Stress is known to negatively affect the gastrointestinal tract’s normal function by inhibiting the gastric emptying, decreasing gastric acid production, and increasing the intestinal motility and permeability. Consequently, intestinal bacterial populations are disturbed and pathogens, such as Salmonella are more likely to survive, colonise and invade the intestinal tract.
** The authors can be reached by e-mail at J.Schmitt@phytobiotics.com and V.Artuso@phytobiotics.com respectively.