Scientists Seek Alternatives to Antibiotics for Growth Promotion

Farmscape for August 11, 2023

Full Interview 17:16 Listen

A scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says new rules governing antibiotic use in feed have heightened the need to find alternatives. As part of research, funded by Swine Innovation Porc, scientists compared the performance of piglets fed a control diet consisting of 35 percent naked oats to diets supplemented with various combinations of bovine colostrum, medium-chain fatty acids and yeast extract and to diets supplemented with the antibiotic chlortetracycline. Dr. Dominic Poulin-Laprade, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says the abrupt dietary and environmental changes at weaning have many detrimental consequences on the piglets’ health.

Quote-Dr. Dominic Poulin-Laprade-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:
At the time of weaning piglets will transition from lactation to a solid grain-based diet. In addition to this feeding transition, piglets are separated from the sows and are introduced into a new pen where they must establish the hierarchal order again.
Weaning is intensely stressful for the piglets that still have an immature intestinal immune system and microbiota resulting in numerous physiological, immunological and microbiological changes causing reduced animal performance, increased susceptibility to enteric infections and, in some cases, mortality. To reduce the effect of weaning, cases of infection and important economic losses producers and veterinarians use in-feed antibiotics.

Canada and many other countries have banned the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion making the research for alternative growth promoters a crucial need. Many research teams are studying the potential of feeding supplements as alternatives to the use of in-feed antibiotics. However little research has focussed on formulating specific feeds for the preweaning period to facilitate the transition during the weaning period by increasing the pre and postweaning feed intake.

Dr. Poulin-Laprade acknowledges the supplements tested in this study fell short of mimicking the animal performance obtained using prophylactic antibiotics.

For more visit Farmscape.Ca. Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producer