At weaning, piglets suffer from immunological, environmental, nutritional and social stress, consequently affecting the gut health and growth performance. Supplementation of probiotics is considered as one of the strategies to maintain the intestinal health and minimize the negative effects of the weaning stress in piglets. Probiotic, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens CECT 5940 is a natural spore - forming bacteria, which supports gut health and improves growth performance in poultry. However, there are limited studies conducted to delineate effects of dietary supplementation of probiotics B. amyloliquefaciens CECT 5940 in piglets. A study was therefore conducted to evaluate the effects of probiotic (B. amyloliquefaciens CECT 5940) supplementation on growth performance, plasma urea nitrogen and fecal microbiota in weaned piglets. A total of 180 mixed-sex pigs weaned at 28 d were randomly distributed to 3 dietary treatments consisting 6 replicate pens (10 pigs per replicate pens). The duration of the study was 62 d, which included pre-starter (28 to 60 d; 7 to 18 kg BW) and starter (61 to 90 d; 18 to 35 kg BW) phases. All the diets were corn-soybean meal-based and pigs were provided ad libitum access to feed and water throughout the study. The dietary treatments were i) control (without AGP and probiotic), ii) supplemented with AGP (Colistin sulphate at the inclusion of 20 ppm/kg of feed), iii) supplemented with probiotic (B. amyloliquefaciens CECT 5940 @ 1x109 cfu per kg of feed). Data were analyzed as completely randomized design and each pen was considered as an experimental unit. Data on growth performance showed that during starter and overall periods, piglets fed probiotics had better (P<0.05) ADG compared with those fed AGP (481 g versus 468 g). The overall feed efficiency of piglets fed probiotics was improved (P<0.05) compared with AGP supplemented group (2.02 versus 2.07). The final BW of probiotics group (37.54 kg) was higher than AGP (36.75 kg) and control group (36.20 kg) pigs. There were no significant differences in plasma urea-nitrogen levels and microbial profiles between the dietary treatments. In conclusion, supplementation of probiotics (B. amyloliquefaciens CECT 5940) had better growth performance than AGP supplemented pigs, which implies that probiotics could be beneficial in improving performance of young pigs fed AGP-free diets.
Keywords: AGP, probiotics, piglets, performance