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Researchers Look to Pig Gut Microbiome to Improve Health and Performance Without Antibiotics

Research conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc is contributing to the development of new products that will improve the health and performance of pigs without the need for antibiotics. As part of research conducted with support from Swine Innovation Porc Canadian universities have been examining the bacterial populations of the gut microbiome of the pig.

Dr. Vahab Farzan, a research scientist and adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Department of Pathobiology at the Ontario Veterinary College with the University of Guelph, says, with the world moving toward minimising antimicrobial use, we need to know what's going on in that ecosystem to help develop alternatives to antibiotics.

Clip-Dr. Vahab Farzan-University of Guelph:

The first thing was to identify the bacteria living in this environment.Some of them are beneficial for health and growth performance.So, we looked at the health of the pig over time and we mostly focussed on the first four weeks of their life, from when they were born to until one-week postweaning.

During that period, we looked at the health of the pig and also the growth performance.The good bacteria in the gut could help pigs in different ways to resist bad bacteria.They can occupy the space, so there's no space for the bad bacteria, if you want to make it very simple.The other way is the good bacteria produce products that are harmful for the bad bacteria.

These are the two major ways that the good bacteria can help pigs to resist against bad bacteria and also to have a better weight gain.

Dr. Farzan says key findings so far have been that, as the pigs grow, the bacterial populations in the gut will change and several genetic variants have been identified that will influence those bacterial populations.

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