Gastrointestinal Health and Function in Weaned Pigs

A review of feeding strategies to control post–weaning diarrhoea in pigs without using in–feed antimicrobial compounds by researchers based in Canada and Australia.
calendar icon 28 March 2012
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For the last several decades, antimicrobial compounds have been used to promote piglet growth at weaning through the prevention of subclinical and clinical disease, according to J.M. Heo of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada and co-authors there and at Murdoch University and the Department of Agriculture and Food in South Perth, Australia.

In their review of feeding strategies to control post-weaning diarrhoea without using in-feed antimicrobial compounds in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, they explain that there are, however, increasing concerns in relation to the development of antibiotic–resistant bacterial strains and the potential of these and associated resistance genes to impact on human health.

As a consequence, the European Union (EU) banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in swine and livestock production on 1 January 2006. Furthermore, minerals such as zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) are not feasible alternatives/replacements to antibiotics because their excretion is a possible threat to the environment.

Consequently, there is a need to develop feeding programmes to serve as a means for controlling problems associated with the weaning transition without using antimicrobial compounds.

Heo and co-authors’ review focuses on some of nutritional strategies that are known to improve structure and function of gastrointestinal tract and/or promote post–weaning growth with special emphasis on probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, trace minerals and dietary protein source and level.


Heo J.M., Opapeju F.O., Pluske J.R., Kim J.C., Hampson D.J. and Nyachoti C.M. 2012. Gastrointestinal health and function in weaned pigs: a review of feeding strategies to control post-weaning diarrhoea without using in-feed antimicrobial compounds. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. (Berl). [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2012.01284.x.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

March 2012
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