Combatting Gut Health Challenges in Growing Pigs

Posted: July 28, 2021 | Written By: Mark Whitney, Ph.D., Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

gut health

Gut health challenges can present themselves in a variety of different ways in pigs.  Physical causes of gut disturbances, such as gastric ulcers or intestinal torsion (twisted gut), can flare up in barns or herds, and may be the result of changes in feed intake patterns or diets, most commonly deriving from environmental temperature changes or out-of-feed events (empty bins, interruption in flow of feed, feeders adjusted too tight, etc.).  Reduced performance and sometimes death can occur.  While these can be quite annoying and costly, they are also generally avoidable and require due diligence during daily checks.

Viral pathogens, such as PRRSv, PEDv, and TGE, can also reek havoc on the gastrointestinal system of the pig, but is much more difficult to control or eliminate.  Most interventions, including antibiotics, will not have a direct impact on the viruses, but can have a secondary impact on the animal’s ability to combat them by controlling other bacterial pathogens and/or boosting the immune system.

Bacterial pathogens are perhaps the most common robbers of performance in swine units resulting from gastrointestinal disturbances.  Two of the most common diseases often identified in growing pigs are Porcine Prolifitive Enteropathy (Ileitis) and Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome (HBS).  Ileitis, caused by the bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis, causes inflammation and thickening of the latter half of the small intestine, reducing nutrient absorption.  In most cases, very little if any clinical signs will present themselves.  Diarrhea around 6 to 20 weeks of age may be observed, but more importantly, growth and feed efficiency may be impacted by 30% or more.  In acute cases, bloody diarrhea and sudden death occur.  With HBS, it is highly suspected that a bacterial pathogen may be involved but no specific one as of yet has been identified.  Infrequent, explosive outbreaks of sudden deaths with intestinal hemorrhaging occur in rapidly growing pigs 2 – 8 months of age.  Mortality rates a variable and unpredictable, ranging from 0.5 – 7% in herds.  Both of these diseases cost the U.S. swine industry millions of dollars in poor performance and loss of animal value.

Impact of Gut Pathogens on Pig Economics

Rejuve is a natural water-soluble tool that can be used to improve digestive health in the pig by inhibiting/suppressing pathogen growth in the gut while supporting healthy gut microflora and the pigs own immune system.  The synergistic blend of copper sulfate, diet acidifiers, essential oils, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and nucleotides help to “rejuvenate” the pig’s lower gut and get them back on track.  Reducing gut pH in conjunction with high levels of copper effectively reduce pathogen load.  Nucleotides serve as fuel for intestinal cells in a growing gut, while FOS stimulate the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacillus bacteria.  Essential oils have been demonstrated to suppress the growth of intestinal pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, and clostridium while supporting the pig’s immune system.

By improving digestive health, less energy is spent by the pig on immune response, resulting in a greater ability to absorb nutrients resulting in improved feed conversion and performance.  Because the product can be added directly to drinking water, it is a quick and easy intervention to address digestive upsets fast, resulting in a quicker return to normal intake and weight gain patterns.  Multiple modes of action ensure a more consistent response to a variety of digestive insults.  Additionally, Rejuve is not an antibiotic, so there are no restrictions on its use and it can fit well into ABF programs.  During high-stress events, such as transport/movement of pigs, health challenges, weather changes, out-of-feed events, etc. Mix the Rejuve packet in a stock solution and provide to drinking water system to provide a low-cost insurance policy for gut health.  For more information on how Rejuve can become an effective tool in your arsenal, contact your local Form-A-Feed representative.