Early Bacterial Colonization of the Gut Carries Long Term Health Implications

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Farmscape for October 18, 2019

Full Interview 11:53 Listen

Strategies being developed by Canadian Scientists that will promote the colonization of the gut of newborn piglets by beneficial bacteria are expected to benefit health, productivity and profitability. To improve pig health and performance while reducing dependence on antibiotics, scientists working on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc are assessing the factors that regulate microbial succession in the pig and whether core members of bacterial communities are associated with health, production and performance. Dr. Andrew Van Kessel, the Head of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science with University of Saskatchewan, explains in the uterus piglets are in a germ free environment but, as they are born and exposed to the world, colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by bacteria begins and more types of bacteria become detectable as the piglet ages.

Clip-Dr. Andrew Van Kessel-University of Saskatchewan:
When we talk about succession we’re trying to understand, is there a common succession pattern that we see in pigs, what are the early factors that are important in that succession pattern. Is the vaginal tract of the sow important, is the composition of the bacteria in the sow’s feces important, is there something about that early environment that’s important that impacts the succession profile early in the pig. The reason it’s important is we think that those early experiences likely have long term effects. If the early experiences of the neonatal pig are affected and changed that may result in a bacterial profile that’s much different as an adult and those differences in profiles may be important with respect to their health and performance.

Dr. Van Kessel says we know the microbial species present in the pig gastrointestinal tract are diverse and are impacted by the environment, by diet and by genetics and the challenge is to understand which are beneficial and which play no role.

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