Researchers Explore Mechanisms Responsible for Gastric Ulcers in Pigs

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Farmscape for July 9, 2021

Full Interview 11:17 Listen

Research underway at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine aims to allow swine producers to increase the inclusion of pea starch in rations without increasing the incidence of gastric ulcers. An increased use of peas to provide protein for products such as energy drinks has resulted in an abundance of finely ground starch co-products but, when fed to pigs, extremely finely ground feed ingredients are known to cause gastric ulcers. Dr. Matt Loewen, an Associate Professor in Veterinary Medical Biosciences with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says we would like to use more of this cheap energy source in swine rations so the goal is to identify the mechanisms responsible for these ulcers, determine safe inclusion levels and find additives to prevent those gastric ulcers from occurring.

Clip-Dr. Matt Loewen-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
There’s probably three lines of thought on why this finely ground pea starch results in more gastric ulcers. One is a physical one in that it somehow changes the viscosity of the gastric solution that’s in the stomach once the pigs eat so somehow the viscosity of it’s changed so there’s more gastric reflux so the viscosity of the actual ingestia has changed and that somehow results in more ulcers occurring.
The second hypothesis is that it’s a physiological change within the gastric mucosa in that somehow these particles are increasing the genes that are responsible for acid secretion so you end up getting more acid secretion and the pH of the stomach is much lower and a lower pH is going to be detrimental to the lining of the stomach causing gastric ulcers that way from a much lower pH in the stomach.
The third hypothesis is that it’s a microbiome change meaning that this starch is causing some type of change in the microbiome meaning that there’s some bacteria that gets overgrown and causes some change in the gastric mucosa.

One though would be that it’s some kind of lactobacillus or something like that that’s producing lactic acid and that lowers the pH and that’s enough to cause the gastric ulcers. Dr. Loewen says, once we know the cause we can identify additives to prevent these ulcers.

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