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

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Novel bioactives and management strategies to stimulate gut health and performance in post weaned pigs.

John O'Doherty , Meike Bouwhuis , Torres Sweeney


Post-weaning complications in piglets are characterized 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 (AGP) 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 multidrug resistant bacteria and the accumulation of minerals in the environment. Up to recently, the main focus on finding alternatives to in-feed AGP 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 gastro intestinal tract (GIT) with microbiota during birth and postnatal 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 GIT, 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.

AN17272  Accepted 18 July 2017

© CSIRO 2017