Organic acids can reduce pig diseases
MYCOTOXINS and microbial contamination of feed could adversely affect pig performance and health following the withdrawal of antibiotic growth promoters. But organic acids have the potential to mitigate these effects.
That was the view of experts speaking at a press briefing held by Frank Wright, Derbys last week. However, Felix DMello, toxicologist at SAC, expressed concern that research into mycotoxins in the UK is being scaled down.
"Surveillance of mycotoxins in cereals and animal feeds is minimal in the UK. Although it is difficult to be precise about figures, mycotoxins could be part of the problem when young piglets suffer weaning stress," said Dr DMello.
To minimise fungal growth on cereals and feed, which leads to the production of mycotoxins, Dr DMello advises storing them in dry, cool conditions.
"Using fungicides, growing disease resistant varieties and adequate storage helps to reduce mycotoxin risk. Adding organic acids to cereal-based animal feed also acts as a useful preventive measure."
As well as protecting against mycotoxins, there is evidence that organic acids provide health and performance benefits in young pigs. But AGPs are proving a challenge to replace, according to microbiologist Peter Silley.
"We are not simply looking at replacing growth promoters; AGPs also offered protection against subclinical disease. Often we didnt realise how well they protected against disease."
Dr Silley believes tailor-made strategies for replacing AGPs will be required for individual units, depending on their individual risk factors. Frank Wright pig technical manager Paul Blanchard agrees.
"In future we will see a combination of enzymes, organic acids, essential oils and herbs used to replace AGPs. Knowledge about enzymes and organic acids is good but there is still a lack of information on essential oils and herbs."
A recent research review conducted by Frank Wright shows significant benefits from feeding organic acids to pigs, but it is important to get dose rates and the type of acid used correct, says Dr Blanchard.
"Three main acids – propionic, formic and fumaric – are added to pig diets. Of these, formic acid consistently comes out on top in performance terms."
Using formic acid at a rate of 6kg/t of feed improves daily liveweight gain and feed conversion ratio by 8.2%, compared with not using it, according to Dr Blanchard.
However, a balance of the acids is needed to assist with application, preserve feed and reduce the risk of pigs consuming disease-causing micro-organisms.
His company has recently launched a range of three organic acid products, two applied in liquid form and one as a dry powder. They can be used in both compound feed and by home-mixers at a cost of £5-£9/t.
• Preserve feed.
• Improve performance.
• Protect against disease.