How to improve the gut health situation in young pigs? Strategies involving feed formulation, the use of betaine as well as a fermentation concept in sow feeding were all explored in a recent webinar that is now available to watch on demand.
The gut health webinar was kicked off by Dr Anouschka Middelkoop, swine nutritionist at Schothorst Feed Research. She zoomed in on the question ‘how feed formulation can be an ideal way to create an optimum gut health in piglets’. She called the farrowing room a “window of opportunity” to already start with interfering with nutrition to improve piglet gut health, because of a progressive gut development, together with an immune and microbiota development in the gut.
She discussed how best to formulate creep feed, in preparation of weaning and also discussed 2 phases immediately after weaning, i.e. the acute phase (5-7 days post-weaning) and maturation phase (after 5-7 days post-weaning).
Next, Lien Vande Maele, central technical manager at Orffa delved into the use of betaine in piglet diets, which she described as a “multifactorial solution to support piglet gut health.” The compound betaine is often overlooked when thinking of its gut health effects, she said. There are a number of reasons why it is worth considering, she said.
She explained how betaine can support gut health in a number of different ways. By increasing feed digestibility, improving enzyme activity, enhancing the intestinal structure, supporting the gut barrier effect, and lastly by reducing the diarrhoea rate. She also hypothesised that betaine hydrocholoride may decrease the stomach pH.
Fermentation of pig nutrition could also be a way to improve gut health and that exactly was the topic of the presentation of René Schepens and Dr Ninfa Rangel Pedersen, on behalf of European Protein. Schepens introduced the theme of fermentation by saying that more than 1,500 metabolites are being created during fermentation, of which lactic acid is one of the most prominent ones.
An integral research into 50 farms is ongoing to measure the effect of fermentation on sow nutrition and their piglets. Available data from 19 farms, including 456 sows show that significantly more short-chain fatty acid producing and/or fibre degrading bacteria are detected, i.e. that it promoted beneficial bacteria with the sows. She mentioned Ruminococccus, which is correlated with farrowing performance, body weight and daily weight gain.
Schepens then also shared production data of farms using this fermentation approach, where 2-3 piglets were weaned more per sow per year.