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Organic acids, prebiotics and protein level as dietary tools to control the weaning transition and reduce post-weaning diarrhoea in piglets

Halas, D., Heo, J.M., Hansen, C.F., Kim, J.C., Hampson, D.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-7729-0427, Mullan, B.P. and Pluske, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7194-2164 (2007) Organic acids, prebiotics and protein level as dietary tools to control the weaning transition and reduce post-weaning diarrhoea in piglets. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 2 (079).

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The most effective way to control post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD) in piglets remains the use of prophylactic and for therapeutic levels of antibiotics. However, increasing concerns about the transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to humans via the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) in animals have led to the ban in the European Union of all AGPs in pig diets from 1 January 2006. Consequently, it is important to develop ways of controlling the weaning transition in piglets without the use of antibiotic feed additives. The scope of this review is an examination of the adaptation of the gastrointestinal tract to weaning and the mechanisms of PWD. Furthermore, the addition of organic acids, prebiotics and probiotics as feed additives as well as dietary carbohydrate and protein modulation to minimize PWD will be discussed. Based on the available literature, organic acids can increase post-weaning performance significantly even though it is not possible at times to recognize the most effective dosage, acid or combination of acids. In some cases, prebiotics can increase the numbers of possible beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus spp. And Bifidobacterium spp. in the gastrointestinal tract; however, there is little evidence of this then improving performance and health. The data defining the benefits of probiotics are equivocal; however, at least some probiotics seem to be able to improve performance of nursery pigs. Lowering dietary protein content for a short period post-weaning will probably reduce PWD and improve intestinal health of the piglets but performance is compromised if essential amino acid levels and/or ratios are reduced below requirement.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CABI
Copyright: © CABI Publishing 2007
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