How to feed piglets healthy

To fight pathogens like streptococci or clostridia, pig farmers increasingly make use of feed additives containing medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). The success is validated in their experiences in praxis.

Especially streptococci are still a reason for concern in piglet rearing, whereas the pathogen Streptococcus suis is one of the main occurring pathogens. The consequences on farm can be dramatic. Next to that, also infections with clostridia are prevalent and often involved in diarrhoea occurrences in piglets, both leading to increased losses.

Infection pressure caused by these pathogens is a main reason for the intensive usage of antibiotics. In many cases, this leads to a significant increase in number of treatments and even an excess of critical measures regarding the national antibiotic monitoring.

Many farms therefore search for alternatives, especially those that can be included into the feed. Over the last years, plant-based feed additives and medium-chain fatty acids, amongst others, established their position as effective feed additives.

Proven in praxis

The different feed additives containing MCFA have been tested in experimental stations and on farms for many times. Depending on type and dosage of the applicated fatty acids, a decrease in feed intake has been observed in several cases, or in other words: high inclusion levels often resulted in a decrease in animal performance.

In praxis, matrix-encapsulated products combined with essential oils increasingly have proven their efficacy, while also increasing animal acceptance effectively. The following practical experiences demonstrate the possible benefit of these feed additives in pig feed rations.

The first example is from a sow farm with increased piglet losses during rearing, caused by a proven streptococci infection. The animals suffered from meningitis as a result from ear necrosis occurrences. Treating individual piglets is often too late to be successful, so that the veterinarian decided to treat the whole group with antibiotics. Due to regular treatments, the monitoring index increased significantly so that the farmer was obliged to develop an action plan.

Together with his veterinarian and his feed consultant, he decided to include a feed additive based on medium-chain fatty acids in his feed, amongst other measures. Since then the feed supplier included 5kg/mt directly into the piglet feed.
The use of the fatty acid blend during piglet rearing improved the health status of his animals effectively. Especially the infection pressure caused by streptococci has considerably been lowered. At the same time, antibiotic treatments and the related costs has been decreased as well, leading to a lower therapy-index.

Application in sow feed

The second practical example is a farm with high losses in young piglets as well as in sows. Laboratory analysis also in this case confirmed Streptococcus suis as main cause.
After consultation at his feed supplier, the farmer changed his ration as he included the MCFA-product in his lactation-, pregnancy- as well as piglet feed. The inclusion rate was 2 kg/mt in the pregnancy- and lactation feed and 4 kg/mt in the piglet feed.

However, rehabilitation was persistent as with the pregnant sows, it was not possible to establish a strict all-in/ all-out procedure into the management of the farm. With that, a total break of infection chains was not possible.
Nevertheless, also this farm was able to significantly decrease their losses with the use of MCFA´s. Piglet losses were reduced from 20 % at the beginning to below 15 %, as common for the farm before the infection occurrence. In total, the farmer today can record an improved health status on the farm.

Hygiene must be correct

MCFA-containing feed additives need to be considered in several ways when formulating rations, especially regarding fat- or energy content. At the end, this can also save costs. However, medium-chain fatty acids are no panacea for fighting streptococci as without sophisticated hygiene management, their success is often limited. A consequent all-in/ all-out procedure, cleaning and disinfection management, disinfection of the sections as well as a meticulous hygiene during castration and docking of the tail, if still applicated, are vital for the success as well.

Next to high quality feed ingredients, hygienically top-quality drinking water is essential. Also keeping stress levels as low as possible to avoid rank fights is very important to avoid injuries and with that, new entrance sides for bacteria.

Especially during critical phases, as e.g. weaning but also re-housing, medium-chain fatty acids can contribute successfully to the relieve of the animals. By the positive impact on gut health – they suppress unwanted pathogens and promote desired pathogens –  they improve the overall health of the animals. Thus, MCFA contribute to the decrease of the application of antibiotics.

What to expect from midchain fatty acids

Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) are effective against gram positive pathogens as streptococci and clostridia and thus, promote to the gut flora on a natural way. Due to their antibacterial effects combined with energy supplying properties, they play an important role in pig nutrition. They stimulate growth of the gut villi and with that, lead to an increased metabolism of the feed and to an increased feed efficiency. Especially during demanding phases, MCFA´s have proven themselves and help to strengthen immunity of the animals at an early stage, while decreasing antibiotic usage.

The antibacterial properties of medium-chain fatty acids on swine-specific pathogens is different. Lauric acid for example is renowned to be an active antibacterial ingredient. Next to this, capric-, caprylic- and caproic acid belong to the group of MCFA´s, typically and naturally being present in vegetable fats like coconut or palmkernel oil. By carefully selecting and combining specific acids, synergistic effects can be obtained to increase efficacy. Also, the addition of phytogenic components can support the effectiveness of the whole product.

Do not underestimate streptococci

In most cases, Streptococcus suis infects piglets during or shortly after birth. Pathogens enter the host via the smallest entrance sides as wounds at or around umbilicus or coronary band, or wounds caused by castration or docking of the tail, for example. The risk is high as also especially dangerous types of streptococci enter into the blood stream where they can reach parts of the body and multiply.

When streptococci have entered the animal, they can lead to various clinical patterns, as:

  • inflammation of meninges,
  • joints,
  • umbilicus,
  • middle- and inner ear.

Next to that, increased losses of new-born piglets can be observed in some cases as well as sudden death cases caused by heart valve inflammation or septicaemia. Problematic and also expensive but often hidden consequences of streptococci can also be indirect. Here are mainly to mention respiratory infections or fertility problems.

Our solution: BEWI-FATRIX® SynerG+

BEWI-FATRIX® SynerG+ is a matrix-encapsulated combination product based on lauric acid, phytogenic substances and monoglycerides of short-chain fatty acids and especially developed to inhibit bacterial growth on pig farms.

Your advantages:

  • Optimises rearing and improves health status of the animals
  • Decreases the risk of infections (caused by e.g. streptococci, clostridia)
  • Combination with aroma (plant extracts and essential oils) leads to proven synergistic effects
  • The matrix encapsulation technique ensures slow and continuous release of the active ingredients over the whole small intestine
  • Suitable for GMO-free feeding (VLOG-verified)