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What Shapes the Piglets Microbiota at Weaning and How it Prepares the Piglet for Disease Challenge

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on August 3, 2018

Authors: Benjamin P. Willing and Janelle M. Fouhse

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017

Summary: Antibiotics have been used for a significant amount of time to control the bacterial population of the gastrointestinal tract of pigs, in an effort to increase growth and reduce disease. The pressure to reduce antibiotic use has increased interested in the advantage of microbiota as a disease resistant mechanism.

Microbiota will colonize the piglet unless it has been born through caesarean section and raised in an isolator. When analyzing the benefits of microbial colonization, it is evident that not all microbes are equally beneficial. It has not been clearly defined the extent of the role that microbial consumption plays in immune function development, however it is said to play an important role. Rearing piglets in an environment that reduces exposure to adult microbiota displayed a reduced immune development and impaired ability to tolerate infection.

When disease challenge is not present, pigs that are deficient of immune system will grow more efficiently than those with a fully functional immune system. However, with the pressure to remove antibiotics from production it is extremely important to develop robust pigs. The development of robust pigs could likely come at the cost of feed efficiency.

Factors that shape microbiota at weaning are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Milk composition and the nursery diet
  • The sow and the environment
  • The sow diet
  • Sow probiotics

More research is needed in order to identify the ideal characteristics and/or composition of the piglet microbiota at weaning to be defined.

What Shapes the Piglet Microbiota

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