Researchers Seek Alternatives for Piglet Starter Diets

CANADA - A researcher with the Prairie Swine Center says scientists are examining a number of products that could be used in place of spray-dried plasma in starter diets for early weaned piglets, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 26 May 2016
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"Alternatives to Antibiotic Use" was among the topics discussed in April as part of the Prairie Swine Centre's 2016 Spring Producer Meetings held in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Dr Dan Columbus, a Research Associate Nutrition, with the Prairie Swine Center, says spray-dried plasma has been shown to be beneficial for health but there are concerns with its use.

Dr Dan Columbus-Prairie Swine Center:

Spray-dried plasma has been found to be relatively effective at improving the overall health of the animal and reducing mortality and morbidity, and it will also increase feed intake and growth rate even in times of disease challenge.

Its main mode of action for replacing antibiotics would be the improved immune response due to the presence of immunoglobulins in that product.

One of the major concerns that we have with the use of spray-dried animal plasma, and in particular the use of porcine plasma, is the need to ensure a safe product, in that pathogens that may be present in the plasma would then be of risk to infect the herd in which you are feeding that plasma, so proper testing procedures do need to be in place to make sure that the plasma product that we use is pathogen free.

Another concern that we have with the use of plasma is that, in some natural antibiotic-free programmes, they've actually stipulated that no animal products can be used in these programmes as well, which would then eliminate our options of using plasma, so we may have to look at other options, even though it has been shown to be quite effective.

Dr Columbus says some products that have a similar mode of action to plasma would be egg yolk antibodies or whey and whey products that may include high quality animal proteins and immunoglobulins, but would not be considered an animal product and could therefore be used in our feeding programmes.

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