Support the piglet's gut and avoid diarrhoea

Thursday, July 23, 2020

 

Support the piglet's gut and avoid diarrhoea


Wesna van Deursen MSc, product manager Joosten - young animal nutrition

 

 
A healthy and well-functioning gut is essential for a good piglet performance. Since 70-80% of the immune cells are located in the gut, a healthy gut, means a healthy piglet (Furness et al., 1999). Supporting the intestinal health of the piglet during stressful periods such as weaning, is of great importance when it comes down to preventing diarrhoea.
 

A healthy and well-functioning gut is essential for a good piglet performance. Since 70-80% of the immune cells are located in the gut, a healthy gut, means a healthy piglet (Furness et al., 1999). Supporting the intestinal health of the piglet during stressful periods such as weaning, is of great importance when it comes down to preventing diarrhoea.

Gut microbiota

In the gut there is a continuous battle between the good and bad bacteria. The right bacteria together with the right substrates have a positive effect on the animal's wellbeing and positively affects health, especially around weaning and growth. Although the impact and composition of the microbiota is very complex and yet little is known. More and more research is being done to know what the microbiota looks like and what influences this microbiota.

In a healthy animal the microbiota (pathogens and beneficial bacteria) are perfectly in balance. A disease or stress can disrupt this balance and pathogenic bacteria can overcrowd and cause infections or diarrhoea.

Piglet diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is still a big problem for swine production, causing suffering in animals, necessitating antibiotic usage and result in economic losses.

The small intestine is the longest part of the gastrointestinal tract and the major site of nutrient absorption but also an important site for entero-pathogen colonisation. The mucosa is the layer in contact with the lumen and is able to increase extraordinarily its absorption surface (in a piglet the size of a tennis field!) due to the presence of finger-like projections called villi, covered with enterocytes (Figure 1).

The crypts are at the bottom of the villi and here is where the enterocytes are 'born' for migrating up to the villi in a continuous replacement of these cells. There is also a viscous layer covering the villi, the mucus, which protects the mucosa from digestive secretions, pathogens and physico-chemical damage. Thus, the mucus together with the layer of enterocytes is the first protective barrier of the intestine (van Dijk et al., 2002).

Damaged gut

During the first days after weaning, the villi are reduced in length up to 75% (Figure 3). As stated by Pluske et al. (1997) this villous atrophy can be associated with two different events:

1. Increase in cell loss, accompanied by a faster maturation of enterocytes in crypts leading to a higher crypt depth (by microbial challenge, antigenic components of feedstuffs);

2. Decrease in renewal of enterocytes due to reduced cell division in crypts (by fasting).

The quantity and quality of the mucus is negatively affected, and its damage would allow an easy access of pathogens or harmful compounds to the enterocytes (Vente-Spreeuwenberg and Beynen, 2003).

The weaning carries out two main critical changes for piglets; on one hand, the animals are separated from the sows, mixed and taken to growing pens, causing an acute stress on them; on the other hand, there is an abrupt change of feeding from suckling to consumption of solid feed. The consequence is a huge decrease in feed intake leading to a low luminal nutrient supply with consequences in health status and performance of piglets (Figure 2).

The border of the enterocytes, characterized by the presence of microvilli, is known as brush border and this is the site for nutrient absorption. The decrease in the number of mature enterocytes will result in malabsorption. Besides, the enzyme activity of this region is determined by the villus height and the maturity of the enterocytes (Vente-Spreeuwenberg and Beynen, 2003) and consequently causing maldigestion.

The enterocytes are connected by tight junctions which control the flow between cells, preventing the entrance of pathogens or toxics through the mucosa. The loss of these tight junctions facilitates the invasion of these molecules, causing an inflammatory response. This will lead to undesirable effects such as anorexia, fever and inhibition of growth (van Dijk et al., 2002).

The fasting period is usually followed by a huge increase in feed intake inducing the stomach to empty its content faster to keep the low pH; a higher amount of bacteria can reach the small intestine, which is not yet recovered, facilitating its colonization by pathogens (van Beers-Schreurs and Bruininx, 2002)

To summarize

Weaning triggers a series of changes leading to the decrease of feed intake and changing of the intestinal architecture which finally results in infection, diarrhoea and low performance. Several studies are being carried on searching for strategies that minimize the impact of weaning on intestinal morphology and function. Some strategies are to increasing palatability (Dong and Pluske, 2011) or supplement feed with glutamine (Lallés et al., 2014).

Joosten Products is strongly focussing on palatability of products. With the Delac Dulce we apply the third dimension which is taste. Delac Dulce is a highly palatable protein and lactose source for piglets around weaning. With Delac Dulce we see an increased feed intake up to 10%. Due to the high palatability we minimize the risk of a weaning dip and therefore stimulating intestinal health.

Other products preventing villi damage are FMR omega 3 and JPC 56, containing high levels of glutamine. Glutamine is the main energy substrate for enterocytes (so build-up of villi) and stimulates the protection and buildup of intestinal epithelium. Resulting in a decreased weaning dip and improved performance (Figure 4).


 

For more of the article, please click here.

 

Article made possible through the contribution of Wesna van Deursen and Joosten

Video >
Technical Paper >
Subscribe Technical Forum eNewsletter
Please input your name.
Please input your company name.
Please input a valid email address.
Please input your job title.
Please select your business category.
By clicking Submit, I am agreeing to receive eFeedLink eNewsletter and understand that the information I've provided here will be saved by eFeedLink. eFeedLink guarantees that your details will not be shared with any third parties.