VIV Europe Hotline, 22 April : It is possible to limit the multiplication of E. coli bacteria in the gut of young pigs by adjusting the diet, reports an exhibitor at the VIV Europe show taking place in the Netherlands. Animal nutrition company InVivo NSA made the remarks during its launch of new piglet prestarter feeds under the YouPig brand.

“These feeds are the result of three years of intensive testing at our own trial facilities in France,” said Philippe Mazerolle, In Vivo NSA technical and marketing director.

“The opportunity to use knowledge gained from the test centre is a key point because it can compare up to eight diets simultaneously under identical conditions and its people collect exact data on individual pigs as well as on groups. It is also one of the very few sites in Europe to have digestibility cages for testing of pig feeds. The information from them has shown us, for example, that the digestibility of a specific ingredient such as soy protein concentrate can be very different depending on the country from which it was sourced.

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“Although all of this was important in developing YouPig prestarters, we realised that some potential customers might not think that results from research trials reflected what would happen with the same feeds on commercial farms. So in the past year, we have developed a challenge model that, in effect, tries to induce diarrhoea in small pigs. We could then try various ways of reducing its occurrence. Again, it is very rare to have this type of model available for use in testing feeds.

“Among the measurements used are the haemoglobin level in the pig’s blood, as a marker of intestinal inflammation, and the ratio between the E. coli and Lactobacillus bacteria present in the gut flora. These helped us identify even subclinical cases, where the pigs were affected, but signs of diarrhoea had not yet appeared. It was this work which demonstrated that changes to the diet did limit the extent of early multiplication by E. coli, to the benefit of the piglet.

“We have put this knowledge into YouPig in ways such as emphasising quality control of the ingredients, choosing a certain level of fibre and using some activated clays in affect the balance of the gut flora. In addition, the diets are formulated using our own matrix, in which the unique data from the test centre are integrated with those of the official bibliographies from institutes.”