Prebiotics and probiotics boost pig growth and health

Abstract: Dr Fausto Solis de los Santos discusses the use of prebiotics and probiotics in enhancing the gastrointestinal tracts of pigs to encourage more efficient feed conversion.
calendar icon 2 April 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of pigs is a very dynamic organ that interacts with the nervous, circulatory, endocrine and immune systems; therefore, the functioning of the GIT affects the entire physiology, health and well-being of an animal. Important intestinal features such as the villi, crypt, lamina propria and the intestinal microflora affect nutrient digestion and absorption, immunity, pathogen control and performance.

With legal limitations on the use of antibiotic growth promoters, the industry and academia are testing several antibiotic alternatives, including prebiotics and probiotics, to maintain or improve feed efficiency in swine production.

Prebiotics, such as Mannan-oligosacaharides (MOS), Fruto-oligosacharides (FOS), Galacto-oligosacharides (GOS), Chito-Oligosacharide (COS), Isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO), Pectic-oligosaccharides (POS), and Xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS), are non-digestible feed ingredients that are fermented in the lower gut to select for beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics refer to a group of non-pathogenic organisms that, when administered in sufficient numbers, are known to have beneficial effects on the health of the host animal; the most common probiotics are Bacillus (Gram-positive spore-forming bacteria), lactic acid-producing bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus), and yeast. Both prebiotics and probiotics have shown to reduce pathogens, the former by offering receptors for the binding of pathogens like Salmonella. Probiotics have several mechanisms of action such as acidifying intestinal content; attachment to the intestinal epithelial surfaces to prevent pathogen attachment; competing for nutrients with pathogens; production of bacteria- toxins, and production of inhibitory substances, such as organic acids and hydrogen peroxide. Probiotics also stimulate specific and nonspecific immune entities such as IL and IgA.

In swine nutrition, prebiotics and probiotics have shown to reduce diarrhoeal incidence, stimulate the immune system, reduce pathogenic bacteria and increase feed efficiency by an average of six percent. In conclusion, based on the review of several scientific literatures and the author experience, it is recommended to use prebiotics and probiotics in swine feed.

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Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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