Feeding could potentially be an important tool to address the problem of Streptococcus suis around weaning. At a test farm of Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), initial tests have proved to be encouraging.
At the moment, around half of antibiotics fed to piglets is given to beat Streptococcus suis infections. Since the Netherlands aim to reduce its use of antibiotics in livestock production, finding solutions in feeding is one of them.
At the VIC farm in Sterksel, in the south of the country, the concept of a weaning flow was introduced. The concept included the use of artificial milk in the first days after weaning and also weaning feed which has adjusted raw material content. The gradual reduction of milk, encouraged the piglets to consume more dry feed.
Better energy uptake
In Dutch agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad, research leader Dr Carola van der Peet, WUR, was quoted to say: “Hardly any studies exist in which the influence of feed on S. suis was studied. In our study we observed that piglets having fed artificial milk, had a better energie uptake and a better growth during the whole phase of growing and finishing. It did, however, not have any influence on the number of clinical signs of an S. suis infection.”
Providing weaning feed, however, did lead to a reduction in infections. Shortly, new research will be conducted in which the researchers will zoom in deeper on these effects of weaning feed on infection reduction. Van der Peet said that it may save considerable amounts of antibiotics when tackling these bacterial infections like S. suis and weaning diarrhoea through feeding.