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For the Future of Farming
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22-02-2017

An Integrated Approach: Nutrition and Water Quality

A key way to support Pig Gut Health

ForFarmers and Selko, the feed additives brand of Trouw Nutrition, have joined forces in recognising an integrated approach in nutrition and water quality to support pig gut health. This approach looks at providing optimum nutritional solutions along with assessing water quality as an important way to help support continued performance of pigs in the context of a reduction in antibiotic usage.

Ensuring an integrated approach to combining organic acids in feed as well as including them in water is one strategy to ensuring the healthy growth of pigs.  Acids along with other additives can be an important  component of feed, as they have been shown  to improve growth performance by supporting gut health and therefore enhance the utilisation  of essential nutrients  in the feed itself.

An integrated approach – Nutrition and Water Quality

As a result of the careful selection of raw materials and the well-controlled manufacturing process, which very often includes a heating stage, modern animal feeds are considered as “low risk” when it comes to introducing unwanted microbes to the growing animal. It is important however that the feed system itself is kept as clean and bio-secure as possible so that the low level is maintained. The same should also be achieved for the water system.

Water is often underestimated in its importance in ensuring a healthy gut and as a result, assessing water quality is a critical  part of an integrated approach, with nutrition and management, in supporting gut health. There can be an increased risk of bad bacteria in water systems which can threaten the integrity of the gut, causing issues such as scouring. Therefore understanding water quality on farm in terms of mineral content, hardness and pathogenic load is an important step in supporting animal gut health. A regular water testing and sanitisation regime is therefore a must if the water quality is not going to become a “weak link” in the feed and water hygiene programme.

Quality Nutrition as a key to pig gut health

In addition the feed  can act as a “delivery system” for key additives that have been consistently shown to enhance and support gut health. In the context of both feed and water, organic acids are arguably the most important and through their effect of directly killing pathogenic bacteria and also acting as a “low pH” barrier to their ingress.  However the feed can also deliver many other components to support gut health.

Specific fibres can be included in the feed which when fermented in the lower gut of the animal will naturally produce short chain fatty acids which have also been demonstrated to modify, in a positive way ,the microbiota of the gut.

In addition to specific feed additives designed to promote a healthy gut microflora, we must also supply the correct balance and blend of key nutrients which the young animals requires for fast and economic growth. These nutrients need to be easily absorbed so that any undigested material does not pass down the gut and act as a feed source for  any pathogenic bacteria residing there. The aim is to supply feed additives in combination with well digested nutrients so as to promote a healthy gut environment which will lead to a healthy animal capable of producing fast economic growth

The overall aim of any animal production system is to develop a high, health animal which can achieve the required, economic level of growth. In the antibiotic reduced production systems of the future there must be increased focus on animal health which in turn means greater focus on gut healthwhich can be achieved by integrated Water Quality and Nutrition.