Spotlights falls on gut health
WITH a high chance of a future ban on using antibiotic growth promoters and copper sulphate in weaner diets, research must begin to focus on understanding and improving gut health.
MLC research scientist Pinder Gill says the pig industry could find itself in a vulnerable position in terms of piglet gut health, if current feed additives disappear due to EU pressure.
The British Pig Executive strategy has set a target of reducing pigmeat production costs by 15p/kg over the next five years through research and transfer of information into the industry. He believes a research programme on weaner gut health, to ensure optimum performance, will be crucial in achieving that target.
"Voluntary removal of AGPs and zinc oxide in Denmark means that 25% of piglets are experiencing gut health problems, resulting in morbidity and reduced growth. We can learn from its experience, but we dont want to repeat it.
"There may not be an ideal system for the UK, but we need a better idea of factors currently existing in the industry which may have an impact on gut health. Key factors may include weaning age and indoor versus outdoor production," says Dr Gill.
It is known that gut health is better in outdoor reared piglets, but not why that is so, he adds.
A three-and-a-half year research programme is now in its early planning stages and Dr Gill hopes to secure funding. *