Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
REVIEW

Novel marine polysaccharides and maternal nutrition to stimulate gut health and performance in post-weaned pigs

J. V. O’Doherty A D , M. A. Bouwhuis B and T. Sweeney C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.

B Schothorst Feed Research, Lelystad, The Netherlands.

C School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Ireland.

D Corresponding author. Email: John.vodoherty@ucd.ie

Animal Production Science 57(12) 2376-2385 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17272
Submitted: 1 May 2017  Accepted: 16 August 2017   Published: 20 November 2017

Abstract

Post-weaning complications in piglets are characterised by a reduction in feed intake and growth, atrophy of small-intestine architecture, upregulation of intestinal inflammatory cytokines, alterations in gastrointestinal microflora, diarrhoea and heightened susceptibility to infection. Traditional measures to reduce weaning-associated intestinal dysfunction have centred on dietary inclusion of antibiotic growth promoters in weaning pig diets, or high concentrations of dietary minerals in the form of zinc oxide. However, these strategies are under scrutiny because of their role in promoting multi-drug resistant bacteria and the accumulation of minerals in the environment. Up to recently, the main focus on finding alternatives to in-feed antibiotic growth promoters has been on dietary manipulations post-weaning, through the use of feed additives in the post-weaning diet. However, there are also other strategies that could enhance the growth and health of the newly weaned pig. One of these strategies is the use of maternal nutrition to improve growth and health in her offspring. The development of the immune system begins in utero and is further developed after the colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract with microbiota during birth and post-natal life. The early establishment of this relationship is fundamental to the development and long-term maintenance of gut homeostasis. There are significant efforts being made to identify natural alternatives to support the development of the piglet gastrointestinal tract, in particular during the weaning period. Chemodiversity in nature, including microorganisms, terrestrial plants, seaweeds and marine organisms, offers a valuable source of novel bioactives. This review will discuss the development of the intestinal tract in the pig during gestation, lactation and post-weaning periods and the factors that influence intestinal health post-weaning. It will also discuss how feeding marine bioactives in both the maternal diet and the piglet diet can be used to alleviate the negative effects associated with weaning.

Additional keywords: chitosan, intestinal health, pigs, seaweed extracts.


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