How to improve your nursery piglets management decreasing the need for antimicrobials

Decreasing the use of antimicrobials (AM) is one of the key challenges in the swine industry and it is not only question of having less diseases or finding a right replacement to them. This practice usually covers poor health or management practices and not only generates resistances but also transmits bad image to the consumer and it is a not always necessary expense. So, we should remove them and replace them with efficient alternatives, such as prebiotics, probiotics, acidifiers or specially designed low protein diets, but not only that, we must look to need them as little as possible. Some practices such as improving biosecurity measures (both internal and external), avoiding high stocking densities or promoting a better immunity in pigs are key factors for this purpose.

A new approach to achieve this last practice has been recently defined by a careful new management of the piglets, in particular those coming from gilts. Our Applied Research Department, (with Carlos Piñeiro, Alberto Manso and Joaquín Morales) along with fellow colleague Edgar Manzanilla (Teagasc; School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin) conducted a research to investigate the effect of parity of primiparous sows (PP) or multiparous sows (MP) on the growth performance and humoral immune response of piglets, as PP have higher nutrient requirements, fewer piglets born with lower birth weight and growth performance than MP.

The conclusions could not be more revealing. The research indicates that the growth performance and humoral immune response of the offspring is affecting pigs’ health and performance until the finishing period and can be improved by cross-fostering. Piglets born from gilts and suckling their colostrum are the most sensitive while piglets from multiparous show the best performance and health during their lifetime. Cross-fostering piglets between gilts and multiparous before colostrum intake worsen or improve their health and performance respectively.

Practical implications are of great importance since natural immunity of piglets from gilts can be improved until the end of fattening period by suckling colostrum from multiparous sows and therefore improving their health and performance decreasing the use of antibiotics, in particular during the nursery period.

You may read the complete paper “Influence of sows’ parity on performance and humoral immune response of the offspring“, published in Porcine Health Management, in this link

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