Fulfilling the needs of pigs and protecting them from diseases through management and nutrition are key towards reaching the maximum genetic potential of pigs, decreasing costs. Good management and nutrition are also the prerequisites to farming success especially during tough times.
The keyword in pig health is “prevention” through hygiene and vaccination. Preventive actions are minor investments compared to the high costs of specific diseases. Body defenses are complex systems that must be supported with vaccinations. These defenses must also be protected from toxins that weaken. The right nutrition in turn favors the establishment of a healthy gut.
Seventy percent of circulating antibodies originate from the gut. A number of pathogens are able to decrease immunity through indirect and direct action. Some antibiotics and most mycotoxins decrease immunity and cause sub-clinical illnesses that always result in performance losses.
A well-known consequence of immune depression by mycotoxins is the activation of chronic processes. These have been documented in Erysipelotrix rhusiopathiae, derived infections (erysipelas, erysipele, rotlauf, mal rosso, vlekziekte), salmonellosis, colibacillosis, streptococcosis, swine dysentery and campylobacteriosis caused by the down-regulation of vaccine response. A healthy gut decreases immune stimulation, thereby avoiding any unnecessary waste of energy and proteins, while raising the animal’s readiness to respond to real and specific disease challenges. A leaking gut is also the consequence of some mycotoxins leading to debilitation of the gut wall barrier against toxins and bacteria.
A piglet’s digestive apparatus matures slowly. It first goes through an increase in stomach pH before gut microflora are established and digestive enzymes are produced.
Acidification supports the early colonization of young guts with “useful” bacterial strains that provide competition against pathogenic bacteria. This gives the piglet time to build up a strong protective apparatus to defend itself against bacterial challenges and process nutrients efficiently.