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Reducing dietary crude protein improves gut health in piglets

Published on: 07/24/2019
Author/s : Dr. Balachandar Jayaraman and Dr. Pradeep Krishnan, Evonik (SEA) Pte. Ltd., Singapore

Feed is one of the most important component which accounts for 60 to 70% of the total cost of pig production. In commercial piglet diets, allowing only protein feedstuffs to meet the dietary lysine needs of the animal would increase levels of other essential and non-essential amino acids (AA) beyond requirement. This would eventually result in diets with higher crude protein (CP) content. The majo...

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July 24, 2019

Hello there, it's been a long time since the last time I wrote.........thanks for the short paper on CP in piglet diets.

My question here would be: you are recommending a CP reduction in PW diets, but to what level would you say, in the very first diet and don´t you think using high CP of very good quality proteins at least 1-2 weeks would help the young animals, so that they, with next diets, perform even better?

Let´s not forget sow milk contains around 25% CP/kg DM, which to me means piglets are prepared to digest high quality proteins and benefit from it.

Many thanks from Colmenar Viejo, Madrid, España.

July 24, 2019

Dr. Balachandar, interesting article regarding protein nutrition of piglets. In this regard, I would like to make a consideration regarding the high protein level of post weaning diets. I think the major restriction of this practice is related to the amount of undigested protein that reaches the animal's large intestine. In this case, there would be greater protein fermentation by the microbiota, which would result in increased production of ammonia, biogenic amines and hydrogen sulfide, among other products harmful to the intestinal health of animals, causing performance reduction. An alternative that can help to circumvent this situation would be the use of a carbohydrate source, such as lactose or resistant starch, which, because of their low digestibility, would reach larger amounts in the large intestine. of the animals. In this case, the microbiota with the increase of these available carbohydrate sources, would use them as a source of energy, incorporating amino acids in their protein, thus reducing the production of harmful products to animal health reducing the occurrence of diarrhea. Thus, it can be concluded that the level of lactose or even the resistant starch in piglet diets should be established taking into account the level of crude protein used. That is, when increasing the level of industrial amino acid supplementation by reducing crude feed protein, a lower level of lactose may be used. The opposite is true.

July 29, 2019
Lactose is more highly digestible for pigs as pigs have lactase enzyme
July 30, 2019

Since customarily high protein incorporation is applied to post-weaned piglets; however, this new contention of more undigested protein will be reaching the large intestine predisposing the gut health of Post weaned piglets from product of microbiota fermentation such as Ammonia, biogenic amines and hydrogen sulfide which are obviously harmful to the piglet gut that can incite DIARRHEA. What is then the best Ratio for Lactose and Crude Protein so that the optimum benefit of this low digestibility ingredients will insure a good performance of the Post weaned piglets which are under threat by the Immunity or Weaning Gap condition?

July 30, 2019

If high crude protein piglet feeds can be used depends a lot on the hygiene level on the (practical) farms and if antibiotics or other anti microbial agents like high levels of ZnO can be used. In the Netherlands no AGP's can be used, the usage of therapeutic antibiotics is very restricted and only 150 ppm total Zn can be used.
Nevertheless, if farm management is good you still want as high a SID amino acid level as possible to sustain growth.

This means in general that the crude protein will be around 20% when high quality protein sources are used: meaning a high ileal digestibility and a good amino acid profile in combination with high levels of synthetic amino acids. Milk proteins like whey fit very well in these diets since f.i. whey provides both highly digestible protein with a good SID AA profile and lactose. Protein sources like Hipro soybean meal are limited. Plasma protein, if allowed, is also an excellent protein and IgG source. As additives in general organic acids, medium chain fatty acid sources and phytogenics are used. Inert carbohydrates are good as 'gut detoxifiers' without increasing fermentation.
Obviously, feed costs will be considerably higher (and in general technical performance lower) than when still antibiotics and high levels of ZnO can be used.

Jannes Doppenberg, Schothorst Feed Research.

August 1, 2019

Dr. Jannes, good focus on the problem of feeding weanling piglets. I would like to make a consideration regarding the concern with the rising cost of feed as reported. Based on the fact that feed expense with piglets during the post-weaning period represents no more than 3% of the total feed expense until slaughter, the cost increase due to the implementation of the alternatives presented should not be the same restrictive factor.

August 8, 2019

Dr. Allan, as far as I am aware, lactose digestibility decreases significantly after weaning. Thus high lactose level in the weaned piglet diet is used aiming its use as a fermentative substrate by the large intestine microbiota, preventing amino acids from being used as an energy source, with the consequent formation of undesirable products such as ammonia, biogenic amines, etc.

August 9, 2019

In high quality weaning feeds typically 10% whey is used, providing about 7% lactose. SFR considers that 10% of the lactose will be ileal undigestible and consequently will be fermented in the large intestine. Therefore the 10% whey will provide 0.7% fermentable carbohydrates (FCHO). The most significant sources of FCHO will be soybean meal in its different forms (Hipro SBM, full fat extruded soybeans, SPC or fermented SBM). Consequently limiting the usage of soy products and using other high quality protein sources will reduce the amount of FCHO and undigestible protein entering the large intestine and prevent diarrhea.

August 11, 2019

Dr Jannes has one more detail to consider with the use of lactose in piglet diets, which is the fact that lactose favors acidophilic microorganisms, acting as prebiotic. In the case of soybean fiber the effect is opposite, admittedly damaging the composition of the microbiota.

david lim david lim
August 13, 2019
Need more inputs from various piglet nutrition experts to enlighten piglets rearing in the tropical countries
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Lucas Pantaleon
Lucas Pantaleon
Veterinarian - MBA
  Versailles, Kentucky, United States