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Nutritional Choices Influence Gut Health in Swine

16 February 2017, at 12:00am

CANADA - A scientist with the University of Alberta says, by considering nutrition, pork producers can foster conditions that will support a more healthy microbial population within the gut of the pig, according to Bruce Cochrane.

The microbiome, a diverse consortium of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and archaea, that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract, contains organisms that are both beneficial and detrimental to animal health and productivity.

Swine Innovation Porc has identified strategies to improve gut health as one option for helping reduce the need for antibiotics within pork production.

Dr Ben Willing, the Canada Research Chair in Microbiology of Nutrigenomics with the University of Alberta, says diet can certainly influence the microbial population within the gut.

Dr Ben Willing-University of Alberta:

There's certainly opportunity to support populations of microbes by having things like fibre in the diet that encourage some of the microbes that we know are a bit more favorable to proliferate.

We also know that things like antibiotics are going to have an impact on the microbial population.

Often those impacts of the antibiotics, while they're important in killing the pathogens, sometimes they kill those beneficial bacteria and that makes that animal maybe a little bit less healthy.

There's a lot of early research that's happening now and this has actually been a priority identified by Swine Innovation Porc is understanding which microbes are helping drive beneficial processes, how diets can be used to manipulate and support that microbiome to be beneficial and even finding microbes that maybe we can introduce.

Maybe a little bit different from probiotics in that they're specifically derived or isolated from the pig intestinal tract as, this is an organism that should be there and that maybe some pigs are missing.

Dr Willing anticipates further advances in the coming years in identifying which dietary components can drive a beneficial microbiome.

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