Effects of Dietary Seaweed Extract Supplementation to Sows and Weaned Pigs

23 November 2011, at 12:00am

Seaweed extract (SWE) supplementation after weaning improved gut health and enhanced the performance of starter pigs and increased growth rate during the grower-finisher phases, according to researchers in the Irish Republic. There was no response to SWE inclusion in grower-finisher pigs born from sows that had received SWE in late pregnancy.

The present study investigated the effects of dietary supplementation of a seaweed extract (SWE) to sows and weaned pigs on post-weaning growth performance, intestinal morphology, intestinal microflora, volatile fatty acid concentrations and immune status of pigs at days 11 and 117 post-weaning, explained S.G. Leonard and colleagues at University College Dublin in the Irish Republic in a paper published recently in British Journal of Nutrition.

Gestating sows (n=20) were supplemented with a SWE (0 versus 10.0g/d) from day 107 of gestation until weaning (day 26). At weaning, pigs (four pigs per sow) were divided into two groups based on sow diet during lactation and supplemented with a SWE (0 versus 2.8g/kg diet), resulting in four treatment groups: (1) BB (basal sows-basal pigs); (2) BS (basal sows-treated pigs); (3) SB (treated sows-basal pigs); (4) SS (treated sows-treated pigs).

Pigs weaned from SWE-supplemented sows had a higher average daily gain (ADG) between days 0 and 21 (P<0.05) post-weaning than pigs weaned from non-SWE-supplemented sows.

Pigs offered post-weaning diets (PW) containing SWE had decreased colonic Escherichia coli populations on day 11 (P<0.01) and decreased colonic Enterobacteriaceae numbers on day 117 (P<0.05). Pigs offered PW containing SWE had a greater mRNA abundance of MUC2 in the colon at day 11 post-weaning (P<0.05) than pigs offered unsupplemented diets.

Leonard and colleagues concluded their results demonstrate that SWE supplementation post-weaning provides a dietary means to improve gut health and to enhance growth performance in starter pigs. Dietary SWE supplementation increased ADG during the grower-finisher (GF) phases. However, there was no growth response to SWE inclusion in GF diets when pigs were weaned from SWE-supplemented sows.


Leonard S.G., T. Sweeney, B. Bahar, B.P. Lynch and J.V. O'Doherty. 2011. Effects of dietary seaweed extract supplementation in sows and post-weaned pigs on performance, intestinal morphology, intestinal microflora and immune status. British Journal of Nutrition, 106(5): 688-99.

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November 2011
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